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Earthquake in Turkey and Syria: Rescue Efforts

On Monday, February 6, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey’s Gaziantep Province and sent powerful aftershocks that traveled around 80 kilometers (50 miles) throughout Turkey and Syria. More than 60 aftershocks were recorded. One aftershock measured at 7.5 in magnitude and hit Turkey about nine hours after the initial quake. This is set to be the largest earthquake to hit Turkey since 1939 (Mogul et al., 2023.) 

The death toll in Turkey has now surpassed 40,000 and experts predict this number will rise as the search through rubble continues. There are more than one million homeless in Turkey alone. Families are sheltering in tents erected by AFAD, Turkey’s emergency management agency; who are also struggling with the shortage of tents and the extreme cold. In South Turkey, families have been forced to flee their homes due to cracking and unstable structures. Syria‚Äôs death toll has climbed to more than 5,600, according to the United Nations‚Äô humanitarian agency.

Hope: Finding Survivors

Now, millions of children are in need of humanitarian support. The exact number of children affected is unclear, but there are said to be over 7 million children in the affected area of Turkey and Syria (Horowitz, 2023.) Rescue workers know that they are racing against time. Though it has been over a month, there was a glimmer of hope on Tuesday, eight days after the quake, when crews dug nine survivors out of the rubble in Turkey. According to the New York Times, Syria’s authoritarian president, Bashar al-Assad, agreed for the first time in a 12-year civil war to open up more border crossings from Turkey so aid could flow into affected areas controlled by groups that oppose his government.

How is the U.S and the World Helping Victims of the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria?

On Monday, Martin Griffiths, the top humanitarian chief at the United Nations, said that the window for rescuing people from the rubble was ‚Äúcoming to a close,‚ÄĚ and that the focus was moving to providing homes, food, schooling and psychological care to victims.

Fortunately, many countries have sent rescue workers to the stricken region. According to the New York Times, the United Nations announced the launch of a $397 million humanitarian appeal for Syria covering a period of three months and a similar appeal would be announced for Turkey. The organization has also released $50 million from its emergency funds for earthquake relief.


Furthermore, the U.S has pledged to provide $85 million in humanitarian aid. This will help in the initial funding of food, shelter, winter supplies, health care services, drinking water, hygiene and sanitation supplies. The U.S has also sent two USAID-supported urban search and rescue teams that have been in Turkey for the past few days.

Now, as the search and rescue moves more toward the recovery phase, what Turkey and Syria will need immediately is shelter. There are those whose homes have been destroyed and others whose building may not have collapsed but are still unsafe. Afraid that their home could come down at any moment.

Thankfully, with the help of Samaritan’s Purse and other nonprofit organizations, the U.S military has flown a number of missions to get relief workers and supplies to certain areas. They have helped a steady stream of patients in the newly set up emergency field hospital in Antakya, Turkey (Martinez, 2023.) 

A Long Recovery from the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

On Tuesday, according to the Wall Street Journal, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey vowed to rebuild thousands of devastated homes, saying his country would overcome the earthquake as it had other historic disasters. ‚ÄúOur aim is that in one year, we will start the construction and revival of the residences,‚ÄĚ he said.¬†

Climate Change Disasters

Overall, our planet is at risk due to climate change. With the frequent droughts, heat waves, rising sea levels and melting of glaciers, animals are having a hard time adapting and surviving in their own ecosystems. People in cities are facing the consequences of intense heat waves, wildfires, storms and floods. The world will continue to be at a high risk if we do not show empathy and care for one another and the beautiful animals that live with us. Everyone can do something to help. Supporting organizations that are on the ground providing help to countries and communities that are facing these disasters and helping a neighbor or family member understand what climate change is and how it is affecting their community is a great first step toward real change. 

earthquake in
Source: Unsplash

How You Can Help After the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Luckily, for those who wish to support emergency response efforts, the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) Center for International Disaster information has created a list of aid organizations working on the ground in Turkey and Syria. Visit the site for more information. 

Additionally, according to the NPR, the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. is requesting the following items to help survivors:

  • Disaster tents
  • Blankets
  • Sleeping bags
  • Floor mats for disaster tents
  • Bed chairs
  • Heaters (220V compatible or with converter)
  • Generators (220V compatible or with converter)
  • Portable restrooms and lavatories
  • Shipping containers


Arzate, H. A., & Fenston, J. (2023, February 7). These d.c.-area organizations are accepting donations for Turkey and Syria. NPR. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.npr.org/local/305/2023/02/07/1155122807/these-d-c-area-organizations-are-accepting-donations-for-turkey-and-syria 


Gaffney, M., Winsor, M., Shapiro, E., Pereira, I., Deliso, M., El-Bawab, N., & Shalvey, K. (2023, February 14). Turkey-Syria earthquake updates: Death toll climbs to over 41,000. ABC News. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://abcnews.go.com/International/live-updates/turkey-earthquake/?id=96913081


Horowitz, J. (2023, February 14). Quake updates: Toll in Turkey and Syria surpasses 40,000 dead. The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.nytimes.com/explain/2023/02/14/world/turkey-syria-earthquake 


Hubbard, B., Harman, G., Saad, H., & Gross, J. (2023, February 13). Shortages of shelter and medical supplies pose dangers to quake survivors. The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/13/world/europe/turkey-syria-earthquake.html 


Kenyon, P. (2023, February 13). Rescuers keep digging for survivors a week after the Turkey-Syria earthquake. NPR. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.npr.org/2023/02/13/1156479373/rescuers-keep-digging-for-survivors-a-week-after-the-turkey-syria-earthquake 


Martinez, A. (2023, February 13). How is the U.S. helping the victims of last week’s quake in Turkey and Syria? NPR. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.npr.org/2023/02/13/1156477708/how-is-the-u-s-helping-the-victims-of-last-weeks-quake-in-turkey-and-syria¬†


Mogul, R., & Picheta, R. (2023, February 7). More than 4,300 dead in Turkey and Syria after powerful Quake. CNN. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/05/europe/earthquake-hits-turkey-intl-hnk/index.html 


University of Arkansas. (2023, February 14). Earthquake recovery and response continues in Turkey and Syria; Campus Support Resources available. University of Arkansas News. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://news.uark.edu/articles/63322/earthquake-recovery-and-response-continues-in-turkey-and-syria-campus-support-resources-available 

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