On Monday 6 February, an initial magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit in southern Turkey close to the border with northern Syria. A second 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck 9 hours later, with aftershocks following.
Two weeks after, on Monday 20 February, two more earthquakes struck in Turkey and were felt strongly in areas of Northwest Syria. People reported more buildings collapsing and widespread panic.
55,000 people have died, with many more injured in the aftermath of the earthquakes. But it is not too late to save lives. Christian Aid is already working with partners in Syria to provide shelter, winter kits, food and clean water to people seeking shelter. Every prayer, every gift, every action brings hope to people hit by disaster.
To save lives and give people hope, please donate what you can today.
Our response in Syria
Christian Aid has been working with local partners across Syria for decades and responding to the Syrian crisis since 2012.
As we work with partners to increase the scale of our operations, we have been training new staff to respond to the local needs of people impacted by the earthquake.
Immediate priorities have been:
- Winterization kits including blankets, mattresses, food parcels and heating material. Partners had already procured £40,000 worth of winterization kits using Christian Aid's funding prior to the earthquake. 13,000 of these kits were distributed in the first 4 days of the response.
- Preparing shelters to help people find some safety indoors from the weather.
- Delivering food and clean water.
- Mental health support.
- Cash for local communities.
55,000 people dead with numbers expected to rise
Across the two countries, more than 54,000 buildings have been destroyed or damaged, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless in freezing winter conditions.
Even before this devastating earthquake, there were over 4 million people in need of aid in Northwest Syria. Nearly 3 million people have been displaced by the long conflict in Syria, 80% of whom are women and children.
Now extreme weather events and the spiralling costs of food and fuel prices due to ongoing conflicts are making the situation even worse.
People are facing a crisis on crisis.
The shelter in the countryside of western Aleppo is home to 200 people.
Sara said: 'Life here in the camp is so tough. The tent is sometimes freezing and sometimes it’s too hot. I feel bored most of the time. I don’t know anyone. I have no friends.'
Thankfully Sara has been able to attend a newly established school where she is making new friends, as well as taking part in fun activities at a child-friendly space at her shelter, run by Christian Aid’s local partner.
Sara hopes her family are able to move to a permanent home soon.
Sara’s story highlights how Christian Aid’s response is developing in the region, focusing now on education, resilience and community led development.
It is estimated over 1 million school aged children in the region are currently at risk of being out of education, and Christian Aid is working to ensure children get access to education services by rehabilitating/ rebuilding 35 schools, enabling children to get access to resources and back to learning.
The rehabilitation of schools also involves partnering with local agencies who provide mental health and psychosocial care to children to help them with trauma and the difficult situations they face.
Prayer for the Turkey and Syria Earthquake Appeal
God of time and space, we cry to you for your children - our neighbours - in southern Turkey and northern Syria, following the earthquake that has devastated hundreds of lives. Only they and you know what it is like to experience such trauma in the middle of the night.
We give thanks for the aid that is already being given and for the promises of help that have been made by many nations.
Comfort, we pray,
those who are trapped in collapsed buildings;
those who have lost loved ones;
those who wait for news and
those digging through rubble to save others.
Grant the gift of hope so that those caught between life and death know that you are with them and that others are ready to support them as they seek a future that overshadows the experiences of today.
We ask this in the Name of Jesus, who endured so much for love of them.