With Millions Displaced, Project HOPE Sounds the Alarm for Humanitarian Crisis in Türkiye & Syria
Washington, DC (14 February 2023) – The global health and humanitarian aid organization Project HOPE is sounding the alarm about the growing humanitarian crisis in Türkiye and Syria following two deadly earthquakes. For the millions of people reportedly displaced across Türkiye and Syria sleeping in sub-zero winter conditions, there is an immediate need for adequate shelter, health care, mental health support, child protection, and basic needs to prevent a greater loss of life.
“As we mark the eighth day since two deadly earthquakes struck central Türkiye and Northwest Syria, miraculous stories of rescue will be replaced by a desperate cry to care for those who have survived. For the past week, the freezing temperatures have forced families to make the difficult decision to inhabit unsafe building structures rather than risk hypothermia from staying outdoors. This creates a new set of challenges as structures have continued to collapse and fall because of aftershocks and damage from the original earthquakes,” said Chris Skopec, Project HOPE’s Vice President of Global Heath. “While we hope that rescues will continue, it is critical that we are supporting survivors with adequate and safe shelter, medical care, mental health support, clean drinking water, food, clothing, and more so that people can begin a long and arduous road to recovery.”
More than 37,000 are reportedly dead – a number that United Nations’ officials anticipate doubling as additional bodies are recovered. Tens of thousands more are reported injured. Of the survivors in Türkiye, many of whom are refugees of Syria’s 12-year internal conflict, more than one million are displaced or homeless. As many as 5.3 million people in Syria may have been left homeless by the earthquake, according to the Syria representative of the UN high commissioner for refugees. They now grapple with frigid temperatures and limited access to food, water, medical care, and shelter – conditions that exacerbate health challenges across the board. Medicines, medical supplies, water and sanitation are also seriously lacking, compounding the likelihood that contagious diseases will spread.
After helping to recover the remains of earthquake victims, Project HOPE is focusing on re-establishing supply chain routes and addressing the healthcare needs that will confront southeastern Türkiye and northwestern Syria for the foreseeable future.
“The task of rebuilding critical healthcare infrastructure is difficult under any circumstance, but here the task feels particularly daunting because we are literally surrounded by towering mounds of rubble and the smell of death,” said Dr. Vlatko Uzevski, Project HOPE’s Emergency Response Coordinator from Gaziantep, Türkiye. “People are stunned with grief and lost, overwhelmed by helplessness, and many have no place to live and no basic necessities, much less access to medical care. At risk of stating the obvious, the needs here are considerable.”
Project HOPE Activities:
- Deployed a K-9 search and rescue team in collaboration with regional partners to assist in search and rescue operations
- Mobilized 100 infant incubators for import and distribution to the Turkish Ministry of Health
- Procuring and distributing thousands of blankets and sleeping bags, as well as family and infant hygiene kits
- Communicating with local partners operating in Syria to address immediate health needs
- Identifying additional local Turkish vendors for the procurement of medicines, medical supplies, hygiene kits, and generators for distribution to the Ministry of Health and impacted health facilities
- Readied a Type 1 Mobile Medical Team (on standby pending government approval)
- Mobilizing additional surge support, including a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support expert and a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene expert
Photos and videos are available here for media use with proper attribution.
Learn more about Project HOPE’s response to the Türkiye-Syria earthquakes here.
Project HOPE first started providing medical support in Türkiye in 1987 and has responded to previous crises there including the 1999 earthquake and Syrian Refugee response in 2013-2015. The organization’s other earthquake response efforts have included the 2022 earthquake in West Java, Indonesia, the 2021 Haiti earthquake, and earthquakes in Puerto Rico in 2020, and Nepal in 2015.
Interviews with emergency response experts available upon request. For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact: [email protected].
About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE is a leading global health and humanitarian organization operating in more than 25 countries around the world. We work side-by-side with local health systems to save lives and improve health. Our mission is at the epicenter of today’s greatest health challenges, including infectious and chronic diseases, disasters and health crises, maternal, neonatal and child health and the policies that impact how health care is delivered. For more information on Project HOPE and its work around the world, visit www.ProjectHOPE.org and follow us on Twitter @ProjectHOPEorg.