"The situation before the earthquake was dire, catastrophic - and now it is even more so."

Turkey-Syria Earthquake

By CARE staff

09 February 2023


Photo: Grayscale Media. A Turkish family who lost their home in the earthquake are sitting among its rubble as they set a fire to warm themselves

CARE staff members Sherine Ibrahim and Ayham Taha have been trying to describe what life has been like in Turkey and Syria since the deadly earthquakes struck the region early Monday morning. But it's hard.

Thousands have been killed in Turkey and Syria, and survivors are stranded outside in freezing temperatures. People need help now.

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No matter how much I try to describe it, it is still [nothing] compared to what it is on the ground.”
Ayham Taha

The quakes and their aftershocks have killed over 17,000 people in the region so far, with the death toll rising every hour. There are thousands of people still vulnerable to collapsing buildings, scarce food, and freezing temperatures.

Some of the smaller towns have been completely wiped out. They are no longer on the map.”
Sherine Ibrahim

Turkey-Syria Earthquake emergency workers

Emergency team members search for people under rubble of a destroyed building in Hatay province, southeastern Turkey. Photo: Grayscale Media

Sherine Ibrahim and Ayham Taha are just two of the CARE staff members working to deliver life-saving aid and resources to the earthquakes’ victims.

As they’ve described what CARE and its partners have been doing to help the rescue efforts, reporters have repeatedly asked them why – despite the cold and the discomfort – they’re still outside.

Since the earthquake struck, all of us have found it hard to go back to our homes. People feel like it’s safer to be out in the open, in our cars, for the night.”
Sherine Ibrahim

“I consider myself lucky, because my son was born outside of Syria. He never knew, like his cousins, about war, but yesterday I was telling him we should go indoors, it’s warmer, and he said, ‘No. We have earthquakes. We should stay outside.’

"Everyone is traumatized, myself included. Kids are severely affected. We can see it on their faces. They cannot express how they feel.”
Ayham Taha


The rubble and massive destruction caused by the earthquake in Aleppo, Syria. Syria Relief and Development (SRD) is a CARE partner working in Syria. SRD's first responders are on the ground, and 20 ambulances have been deployed to serve those critically injured. Photo: SRD

CARE’s on-the-ground teams and partners are trying to help people on both sides of the Turkey-Syria border, and they’ve been particularly worried about what the destruction has done to the already-dire situation in Syria.

Allepo and Idleb have been the hardest hit. The reality is the one remaining border crossing is a critical lifeline.”

“Regardless of what the political positions are right now, the humanitarian imperative is far greater than it has ever been before.”
Sherine Ibrahim

The clock is ticking on both sides of the border. Every minute delayed we might lose the chance to rescue a life. This is the situation on both sides of the border. Both sides are sharing the same pain.”
Ayham Taha

Turkey-Syria earthquake survivors

People look on as rescue efforts continue in Belen, Hatay, Turkey. Photo: Grayscale Media

“There is a lot of hope still,” Taha said. “Tents, mattresses, food. Everything counts. Because one mattress could improve the living condition or the night of that young boy who is sleeping on a floor outdoors.”

The situation is changing by the hour, but CARE Turkey and its partners are prioritising the delivery essentials like tents, mattresses, blankets, clean drinking water, baby food, and thermal clothing to people seeking refuge from the earthquake and the looming snowstorm. CARE is also preparing for potential influxes of internally displaced persons across northern Syria to areas where CARE and its partners operate.

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