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Türkiye Syria Earthquake

Active Emergency Photo/Human Appeal
Feb. 6, 2023
Türkiye and Syria
Two young girls, one on left taller in bright pink outfit, younger one on right in light pink. Family with children seated in the background. Sign with Human Appeal, Americares and health center name on wall.

Survivors Find Homes and Health Care After Türkiye Syria Earthquake

“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for the people of Syria,” says Dr. Nihat Kashoor, a medical coordinator for Human Appeal in northwest Syria. “Millions are still trying to piece their lives back together following the devastating earthquake early last year.”

The powerful Türkiye (Turkey) and Syria Earthquake on February 6th, 2023 killed and injured tens of thousands of people in Türkiye and Syria, and forced families from their damaged homes.

Americares response to the devastating earthquakes is focused on restoring and supporting access to health care including mental health services for earthquake survivors and people displaced by the temblors.

Fifteen thousand people found shelter near Idlib, Syria, in the newly built community of Al Zohoor and now, with support from Americares, they have access to health care — at a fully stocked and staffed health clinic in their community.

“In the initial aftermath, we prioritized offering shelter and food security. Once established, it was a vital priority to provide free medical care to those who lost everything, says Dr. Kashoor. Human Appeal built all of the homes and community buildings in Al Zohoor. “We’re proud to have opened the health care center in Al Zohoor in collaboration with one of our longstanding partners, Americares, and hope to provide a stable future for all those affected by the earthquake,” says Dr. Kashoor.

Photo/Human Appeal

A Health Clinic in Al Zohoor Changes Lives

The clinic, which has been operating since June 2023, provides access to essential medicines, primary care, trauma services, lab testing, dental care and mental health and psychosocial support. At the same time, funds are being used to help cover staff salaries for a year – in a region where health care is needed now more than ever.

In its first month, the clinic treated more than 2,000 patients. When I see the joy on people’s face when they receive medicine, which they couldn’t [get] before or because of the treatment they received they are relieved of their pain, it is a feeling that is really hard to express,” said Human Appeal Türkiye and Syria Country Director Ubeyd Sakin. “The humanitarian work we’re doing is literally saving lives of children, women and elderly. I hope that we can do more in the future.”

Health worker in mask, lab coat and hijab with gloves speaks with patient seated in mask and hijab. Human Appeal and Americares signage behind health worker
The Al-Zohoor Primary Health Clinic focuses on the most vulnerable individuals, especially women of reproductive age, children under 5, the elderly, and people with disabilities. (Photo/Human Appeal)  
A young Syrian refugee kneels in front of rubble of a factory where he once worked before the earthquake.

Deadly Türkiye Syria Earthquake

A 7.8 magnitude Türkiye-Syria earthquake struck in the early morning hours of February 6, 2023 followed by a second powerful quake and more than 100 aftershocks, killing more than 50,000, injuring tens of thousands, collapsing countless buildings, and posing a staggering humanitarian crisis in a region already struggling with manmade crises from years of war, refugees fleeing conflict and economic instability. It was the strongest earthquake in the region in nearly a century and the aftershocks continue with the recent quakes causing more panic and death. The death toll rose as massive rescue operations transitioned to search and recovery and the winter cold threatened survivors. The disaster affected millions of people in the region with many lacking food, water and shelter. With major damage to health facilities in Türkiye and Syria, access to basic health care became an immediate concern.

Americares continues to offer assistance to partner organizations in Türkiye and Syria, focusing on support services that restore access to health care for displaced families and delivering medicines and relief supplies along with mental health support to help adults and children, as well as local partner staff, process the multiple traumas of disaster, displacement and war.

Updated 2/2/2024

(Photo: Jeff Kennel) Please click on the arrow and meet Abdul, telling the story of how he and his family survived the earthquake.

Our Response

Following the initial work of our Emergency Programs Team, an Americares shipment of lifesaving medicines, surgical supplies and wound care products arrived in northwest Syria three days after the earthquake.

In the one year after the quake, Americares has provided 16 local partners with $3 million in aid. This includes more than 18 tons of medicine and medical supplies with enough medicine to fill 10,200 prescriptions. We have delivered wound care products, IV fluids, antibiotics and pain relievers to support 29 health facilities in Syria. Americares is working with longtime partner organizations Human Appeal, the Syrian American Medical Society and Shafak to support earthquake survivors in Idleb and Aleppo.

A long camera shot of a large shipment of relief supplies that sits at the airport after being unloaded with three team members checking the shipment at the right. Planes visible in the background.
An Americares Emergency Relief Team receives 16 tons of Americares medicine and supplies in Adana, Türkiyee as part of a large aid shipment delivered by the UPS Foundation, Feb. 21, 2023. (Photo/Jeff Kennel)

Americares is also providing emergency funding to local health partners working in the region to help restore health services, support displaced populations and provide mental health support in the hardest hit communities. To date, Americares has awarded $1.2 million to 11 partner organizations. Funds have been used to:

  • Establish a health clinic in Al Zohoor in northwest Syria to ensure earthquake survivors, including displaced women, children and the elderly, have access to primary care and trauma services, lab testing and mental health and psychosocial support. Americares funds completed construction and equipped the facility and will help pay staff salaries for a year.
  • Fuel hospital generators and ambulances, purchase essential medicines and support intensive care units, emergency rooms and operating rooms in affected areas.
  • Purchase critically needed medicines and relief supplies including, rotavirus vaccines to prevent outbreaks at shelters and shared living spaces housing earthquake survivors; hospital beds and wheelchairs for patients; blankets, warm clothing and hygiene products for survivors and workers clearing the rubble; and laundry containers that will allow survivors to wash their clothes at no cost.
  • Provide clean drinking water and bring WASH education to displaced earthquake survivors in rural communities in Türkiye and Syria.
  • Operate a playground and safe space for mental health and psychosocial support for children.
  • Build two rehabilitation centers for children in Hatay and Kahramanmaras, where psychological counselors will be available to support their mental health needs. Both centers will also have designated play and social areas for the children.
  • Provide psychological first aid group counseling sessions and educational activities to help children recover from the trauma caused by the earthquake.
  • Integrate gender-based violence services at two health facilities in northern Syria.
  • Train civil engineers in northwest Syria to use structural engineering software and equipment as well as build their capacity in Syrian building codes.

Within one year after the earthquake, through direct counseling and technical assistance to local partners in Syria, Americares provided 366 health and frontline workers with mental health and psychosocial support*. To accomplish this, Americares:

  • facilitated 50 individual and group psychosocial support sessions
  • supported 104 health workers with weekly psychosocial support groups (each support group met once a week for five weeks)
  • supported 117 individuals with emergency psychosocial support sessions in response to airstrikes and other escalations in violence that affected Americares local partners
  • provided four mental health psychosocial trainings to 35 frontline workers.

Families and especially children who have lost everything face extraordinary trauma... and health workers are dealing with two levels of trauma – their own stress and the needs of the people they serve. Our mental health and psychosocial support services are a critical part of our response and recovery work.

Fatima Jarrar, Americares MHPSS specialist.
Fatima Jarrar, Americares mental health and psychosocial consultant

“Most often, I hear that health workers in North Syria need support to face the challenges in their frontline jobs and at home and in their communities. My main role is to offer them a safe space where they can be themselves and express whatever they feel comfortable sharing.”

Fatima Jarrar, Americares mental health and psychosocial support consultant, Amman, Jordan

READ THE STORY of Ehsan and his family in Aleppo, Syria.

Identifying Medical Needs

There continues to be a critical need for medicines and medical supplies, including antibiotics, IV fluids and wound care products, as well as primary care and chronic disease medications to resupply damaged health facilities and support essential health services for families displaced by the earthquakes. Americares is prepared to meet those needs—and more.

And there are more mental health needs. Among the millions of people in need in this region are families affected by the civil war in Syria, including Syrian refugees living in southern Türkiye. Many earthquake survivors have also experienced trauma from the war and are now displaced yet again, facing an even more uncertain future.

“Our relief workers have extensive experience coordinating large-scale shipments of medicine and relief supplies, mobilizing emergency aid in crisis situations and restoring health services for disaster survivors, and we are on the ground to help address the most pressing health needs of families affected by the crisis.”

Cora Nally, Americares Director of International Emergency Response

a child's red toy car sits in foreground in sea of contents spread on ground from the ruined apartment buildings behind.
Much of Iskenderun, a port city located in Turkiye’s southern Hatay province, lay in ruins after the magnitude 7.8 quake Feb. 22, 2023 (Photo/Jeff Kennel)

Our History

Americares has been providing assistance to Syria for more than a decade, delivering medicine, medical supplies and relief items to partner organizations in northwest Syria assisting families affected by the long running civil war. Americares supports more than 50 health centers in the region serving children and adults.

Americares has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice and stocks emergency medicine and supplies in warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis. The organization responds to more than 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings preparedness programs to communities vulnerable to disasters.