Over two weeks since the earthquake, many people are still trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings. There is a very low chance of finding them alive. Due to the limited supplies of rescue equipment, the death toll continues to rise.
The powerful earthquakes that hit various areas of Syria during the winter season have left thousands of people without adequate shelter and food. Many of them have been forced to relocate due to the ongoing war and the country's economic collapse.
Some people have been staying in temporary shelters while others have been staying with relatives or local communities. Some of the issues that remain are overcrowding and privacy issues in the shelters. The lack of psychosocial support is also a concern for many of the people staying in these facilities, said George Majaj, Humanitarian Programme advisor MENA, ACT Alliance.
“The humanitarian situation in the region before the earthquake was very poor, with around two million people already internally displaced. Now, due to the disaster, many more people are facing another displacement. They live in informal camps and tents, and they lack basic services. Before the earthquake, there was a lack of funding for Syria and limited media attention,” said Majaj.
Both the Syrian and Turkish governments have been calling for support since the earthquake occurred. The international community has responded to the humanitarian needs of the people affected by the disaster by providing various types of aid. Some of these include shelter, food, and relief supplies. The UN's humanitarian agency, the UNOCHA, has also issued two Flash Appeal campaigns for the earthquake in Syria and Turkey.
The ACT Alliance immediately responded to the earthquake by issuing an alert to its members globally and launching a revised appeal. Its members were also very responsive to the needs of the affected individuals and pledged over 5.5 million dollars to help the victims.
While some of ACT's member churches provided shelter to the victims, the organization's members also contributed various items to the shelters. They are currently planning on providing rental assistance to the affected individuals.
“A member of the ACT Alliance was on the ground immediately after the earthquake to assess the situation and provide aid and assistance to the people affected by the disaster. The main needs identified by ACT members were in line with preliminary findings of the assessments of the UN Clusters and others,” said Majaj.
He further added that based on these findings, the ACT Alliance response was designed.
“The immediate response by ACT members was providing winterization kits, food packages, medicine, hygiene kits, and adult and children diapers (MECC, GOPA). ACT Member GOPA-DERD is also assessing the buildings to be able to provide shelter repairs with light rehabilitation, and GOPA-DERD and MECC are supporting needed families with rental assistance,” shared Majaj.
Majaj also commented that HEKS-EPER is currently conducting assessments on public bakeries to re-establish and provide a production line to serve the subsidized bread.
“Church Aid is preparing through their local partner to provide case management and individual protection assistance, and establish child-friendly spaces, whereas LWF is still assessing their plans with their local members,” said Majaj.
He further stated that the work done by members of the organization will continue to support the recovery efforts and provide opportunities for the victims.