Press release: Half a year since devastating earthquake – More than 3.5 million remain without a home
Six months after the devastating twin earthquakes hit Türkiye and Syria, the need for humanitarian support persists, as more than 3.5 million remain displaced.
Posted on 06 Aug 2023
On February 6 two large scale earthquakes hit near the Türkiye-Syrian border drawing headlines across the globe as the deadliest in modern times, striking in communities where millions had already been displaced by the decade long crisis in Syria. While the earthquake is no longer in the public eye, thousands of families remain with nowhere to go and unable to resume their lives.
In Türkiye more than three million women, men and children are without a home. Half of whom continue to live in spontaneous settlements, such as tents and abandoned buildings, as they face challenges to access rental arrangements, repairing their homes and uncertain relocation assistance. Although the government, United Nations, Turkish and international NGOs are providing help, the scale of destruction means it will take years, if not decades, to rebuild communities across the country and give people back their homes, their education, their livelihoods, and their dignity.
“There are several additional risks for people living in spontaneous settlements, including gender-based violence, children working rather than getting an education, and a lack of access to services – including a lack of water in many sites which means diseases can easily spread. The scale of the challenge seems to be increasing. So far, The Danish Refugee Council have established presence in seven of these sights, providing protection,” says Mohannad Othman, Country Director of Türkiye.
There are several additional risks for people living in spontaneous settlements, including gender-based violence, children working rather than getting an education, and a lack of access to services – including a lack of water in many sites which means diseases can easily spread.
/ DRC Country Director of Türkiye, Mohannad Othman.
Across the border in northern Syria anestimated 575,000 people have been displaced, now living in unsafe buildings, tents or out in the open with reduced access to clean water and sanitation, and loss of livelihoods. As communities continue to rebuild their lives following the earthquake, families are further stressed by the economic deterioration and collapse of the Syrian currency further burdening the earthquake recovery efforts.
DRC has been supporting communities in Aleppo city, including many families living in schools and other public buildings, who don’t know if they’ll ever be able to return home.
“Some of the families we are supporting in Syria were beginning to rebuild their lives after years of displacement and have now lost their livelihood and homes once again, while the economic crisis in the country was already making life harder for many. Humanitarian efforts aim at reducing the vulnerability of those affected families we provide financial assistance for shelter and business rehabilitation and provide psycho-social help to strengthen the resilience of families and children who have already endured years of conflict,” says Sachitra Chitrakar, Country Director of Syria.
Since February, DRC has supported over 91.000 individuals affected by the earthquake from the initial emergency response to recovery efforts with an ongoing focus to rebuild families and communities – our work remains imperative and the need for international support the same.
Some of the families we are supporting in Syria were beginning to rebuild their lives after years of displacement and have now lost their livelihood and homes once again.
/ Sachitra Chitrakar, Country Director of Syria
Facts about the earthquake and the aid response
Close to 18 million people in Türkiye and Syria have been impacted by the disaster, with over 55,000 dead and nearly 130,000 injured.
An estimate of 575,000 people was displaced by the earthquake in Syria.
3 million people remain displaced in Türkiye, including 1,6 million living in makeshift shelters.
In Antakya an estimate of 160,000 buildings containing 520,000 apartments collapsed and in Syria2.260 buildings were destroyed.
The Danish Refugee Council have provided help to 24.545 individuals in Syria and 67.145 in Türkiye. These include providing psycho-social support, shelter, distributing hygiene kits, cholera kits and water among other activities.