EPASyrian migrants wait at the border crossing into Syria after another major earthquake.
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 16:42
North de Kort
North de Kort
After the new earthquake in Syria and Turkey, it is clearer how great the need for psychological help is, aid organizations say to NOS. “Many people had a re-experience, or jumped from balconies or windows out of panic,” says Jasper Kuipers, director of Dokters van de Wereld.
At least six people were killed and nearly 300 injured in yesterday’s quake, with a magnitude of 6.4, according to authorities on the Turkish side. On the Syrian side, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, five people have been killed and more than 500 injured.
Survivors in the disaster area were still processing the quake two weeks ago when the earth started shaking violently again yesterday. That led to a lot of panic, says Elsa van Zoest, emergency aid expert at Giro 555, which includes eleven aid organizations.
“People no longer feel safe anywhere. I also hear from aid workers in the area that they are afraid,” says Van Zoest. “The new quake emphasizes the importance of psychological help.”
Draw to process
The aid organizations of Giro 555 already offer psychological help, but the emphasis is now on children, says Van Zoest. “We create safe spaces where children can play and process what they’ve been through.”
For example, children can talk to specialized care providers about what they have experienced. “This is done in a playful way, for example through drawings,” says Van Zoest.
The aid organization Dokters van de Wereld – which is not affiliated with Giro 555 – also has psychologists in the affected area. According to director Kuipers, this is not a good environment for full trauma treatment. “Here, people are surviving from day to day.”
Doctors of the World does offer “psychological first aid”, which mainly consists of having conversations about experiences. “To prevent trauma from accumulating,” says Kuipers.
‘needs the same’
According to Kuipers, after yesterday’s quake, relief efforts have become more complicated because roads and bridges have been damaged even more. “It is difficult for our mobile teams to travel around the area. And supplying our clinics is also difficult.”
Furthermore, the type of assistance has not changed much, says Van Zoest. “The needs are the same.” According to her, the aid organizations mainly focus on access to clean drinking water, hot meals, medicines and temporary shelters.
Van Zoest also does not expect that much more help will suddenly be needed. “The aid has already been scaled up. We will continue to do so, to reach as many people as possible.”
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