Six months after two devastating earthquakes rocked Turkey and Syria, international aid organizations are scaling up their relief efforts amid an ongoing crisis that has left millions of people in desperate need of assistance.
Malteser International, a Cologne-based global relief agency, said that despite some progress in debris removal and partial reconstruction, the scale of destruction is staggering. “The extent of the destruction is still inconceivable,” said Dr. Thomas Weiss, director of the Middle East Department at Malteser International. “Although clean-up work is progressing in many parts of Türkiye and reconstruction has begun in some areas, millions of people are left with nothing.”
The earthquakes struck on Feb. 6, causing the deaths of 57,000 people, the destruction of over 350,000 buildings and impacting 18 million people across both countries, according to official figures.
Caritas International, a collective of over 165 relief agencies, estimates that the number of people in need of aid exceeds 5 million. The organization is currently providing assistance to earthquake victims and supporting the repair and reconstruction of damaged buildings.
Meanwhile, Handicap International highlighted the therapy and prosthesis needs of disabled victims, with many severely injured survivors requiring extensive physiotherapy, prosthesis and psychological support.
In Germany, donations for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria have totaled 251 million euros, collected by 53 aid organizations, as reported by the German Centre for Social Issues.
According to the United Nations, more than 10 million people in the affected regions still require humanitarian assistance. Aid efforts are mainly focused on medical care, psychosocial support to cope with trauma and the provision of basic supplies in shelters and camps.
In Turkey particularly in the municipalities of Kilis and Hatay, thousands of people are living in emergency shelters due to their houses being destroyed or uninhabitable. Malteser International is working in cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent and Hand in Hand for Aid Development, distributing blankets, mattresses, shelter kits and food packages.
The already complex humanitarian emergency in Syria has been further exacerbated by the earthquakes. In northwestern Syria, more than 4 million people urgently need help. Malteser International is working with partner organizations to provide medical care, distribute food and install water and hygiene facilities on the ground.
“To support the children’s mental health, setting up child-friendly and safe places where they can play and escape for a moment from everyday life in the camps is an important measure,” said Dr. Weiss. “We will not leave the people in northwestern Syria alone and will stand by them,” he added.