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Oxfam mounting response to massive earthquake in Türkiye and Syria

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RS353312_Southeast Turkey and Syria Earthquake - AGENCY IMAGE
People and emergency personnel search for survivors at the site of a collapsed building after a powerful earthquake in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, on February 6th, 2023. DENIZ TEKIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Learn how our staff and partners are assessing what people need—and how you can help.

In the early hours of February 6, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Türkiye (Turkey) and Syria, soon followed by a second shock. Reports have put the death toll at more than 2,000 people, which will likely increase as there have been numerous aftershocks.

“The scale of destruction is vast,” said Meryam Aslan, Oxfam’s spokesperson in Ankara. “Following two big earthquakes and over 60 aftershocks, people are still in shock and fear. They don't even have time to mourn the lost ones."

Oxfam teams and partner organizations in Türkiye and Syria are determining the fastest, most appropriate response to help people affected by this devastating earthquake—the biggest in Türkiye since 1938.

Earthquake survivors need food, water, and shelter

Southern Türkiye has been heavily affected, especially areas around Gaziantep and Hatay/Antakya. These are major hubs for organizations supporting humanitarian operations in Syria.

In Syria, the cities of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Idlib have been badly hit by both the earthquake and continuous, severe aftershocks that have driven people into wintery streets fearing further collapses of buildings. Dozens of buildings have been badly damaged across Aleppo and 46 are reported to have collapsed. Survivors need shelter, food, water, fuel, and medical care.

For Syria, this earthquake hits at a time when humanitarian need in the country is at its highest. The country hosts the majority of the 6.7 million people who have fled their homes because of ongoing conflict.

Oxfam preparing earthquake response after needs assessment with local partners

Oxfam KEDV, the Oxfam affiliate in Türkiye, partners with around 80 women’s cooperatives in 10 Turkish provinces most affected by the quake and is currently assessing response plans with them given the scale of devastation. An Oxfam team is travelling to affected areas to conduct assessments, as part of Türkiye’s official National Disaster Response Platform.

“Reaching survivors will be extremely challenging with many roads and highways damaged or blocked,” Aslan said. “Even as Türkiye has a lot of expertise in dealing with the aftermath of earthquakes, the scale of this one is daunting. The number of survivors who may be left now with absolutely nothing is likely to be huge.”

“Typically, Oxfam and partners would look to provide protection, water and sanitation, shelter, and food support, and in the longer term rehabilitation and reconstruction,” Aslan said. “We are now assessing the type of immediate and longer-term support that is needed.

“We know that all countries affected by this awful earthquake, and the survivors of it, will need a lot of help and support—not only in the immediate short term, but in the days, weeks, and months ahead.”

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