EPAA woman sits in front of her tent in the town of Iskenderun, Hatay province
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 18:31
A month after the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria, life has come to a standstill for many people. Many of those affected have now received emergency aid, say various aid organizations. In places where large organizations do not come, there are many local initiatives with volunteers. In the disaster area in Syria, aid is lagging far behind.
About two million Turks have been given temporary shelter, mainly in tents, the Turkish government reports. People are also now living temporarily in container homes, in hotels along the coast or with family and friends in other places in the country. Aid organizations provide daily meals and clean drinking water and distribute blankets and tents. This emergency aid will be needed for weeks, if not months.
“We are really still in the first phase,” says Elsa van Zoest of Oxfam Novib. “It’s still about the basic necessities of life. People live from day to day.” Jos de Voogd of Save the Children also sees this. “In addition to emergency aid, people also need time to process the loss and grieve.” Both organizations are active in the disaster area and are affiliated with the national campaign of Giro555, which raised more than 108 million euros.
NOSIn February, four strong earthquakes hit southern Turkey
Shortly after the earthquake, the magnitude of the disaster became apparent: millions of Syrians and Turks were left homeless overnight. The quake killed at least 50,000 people, although this number is probably higher. Tens of thousands of buildings have been damaged or completely destroyed. For Turkey, it is the biggest disaster in the country’s modern history.
Not everyone reached yet
The United Nations reiterated today that hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey and Syria still need shelter and care. Aid organizations also see that not everyone has yet been reached in Turkey, such as in small villages. “We have already distributed millions of meals, but a lot still needs to be done,” says Derk Segaar of the Red Cross. He has just returned from the disaster area. “We are now also going into the mountains, to remote areas.”
Turkey correspondent Mitra Nazar:
“It varies greatly per place how much help there is. In some places in the hard-hit province of Hatay, people are still asking for tents. There are many small Turkish organizations and volunteers from all over the country active in the area, such as women’s organizations, psychologists and teams that entertain children.I saw companies and football clubs, for example, arranging tents and handing out food.
The concern is mainly for the longer term. There are still many structural problems. In Hatay there is no electricity or running water in some places. Due to the new earthquake two weeks ago, the electricity was once again out in places.”
EPAMemployees of the Turkish Red Cross amuse children in a tent camp
In the less severely affected parts of Turkey, such as the cities of Adana and Gaziantep, life is slowly getting back on track. “Some shops and markets are opening again, and rubble is being cleared so that there is room for reconstruction,” said Segaar of the Red Cross. Schools will also reopen in various places this month.
This is not yet the case in heavily affected regions, such as the province of Hatay. “Villages and cities are almost completely in ruins,” says Segaar. The residents have also moved out. “There it may take years before daily life can be resumed.”
The Arslan family picks up again a month after the earthquake:
Month after earthquake, the Arslan family picks up again: ‘Our body bags were already ready’
The many national and international aid campaigns in Turkey are in stark contrast to the situation in neighboring Syria, where many of those affected are still deprived of aid. Although the flow of relief supplies to the disaster area has been increased, that is not enough, the UN said earlier. Until last week, only 150 trucks with aid supplies crossed the border into opposition areas in Syria. Four million people live in the area.
Cholera in Syria
They mainly receive help from local organizations that already worked there with limited resources. “I still see little movement to give Syrians a dignified existence. Syrians often organize the aid themselves,” says Jasper Kuipers, director of Dokters van de Wereld, one of the few aid organizations in the area. He is particularly concerned about the recent cholera outbreak, which could lead to many deaths if more help does not arrive soon.
A large part of the population was already dependent on humanitarian aid as a result of the twelve-year war. Some of the inhabitants now sleep in tent camps, but there are also people who spend the night in cars or with large groups in one room. Some Syrians sleep in cellars under collapsed buildings, Idlib residents say.
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