Türkiye and Northwest Syria, six months after the earthquakes: “We have to start from zero again”

Türkiye 6 months earthquake Hatay Hüsameddin family

06 August 2023


Image: Tarek Satea/CARE

Six months since the earthquakes in Türkiye and northwest Syria, and results both sides of the border are devastating. In Türkiye alone, 9.1 million people have been affected by the disaster - including 1.7 million Syrians who have fled to Türkiye to seek refuge from the chronic conflict in their homeland. Over 55,000 people have lost their lives and 3 million are now displaced. Sherine Ibrahim, Director of CARE Türkiye said:

"Six months on, people in Türkiye are still suffering the consequences of the catastrophic earthquakes. Countless people have lost their relatives, friends and neighbours; while many have lost their entire livelihoods. Those most severely affected have little or no access to resources and services and therefore very limited capacity to self-recover. Six months on, the need for humanitarian aid continues and will not diminish any time soon in view of the extent of the destruction. CARE continues to provide emergency aid, including shelter, hygiene items, water and food, but the humanitarian needs are immense and will continue to be so for years".

Türkiye 6 months earthquake Hatay distribution Layla

Image: Tarek Satea/CARE

"I won't ever go back to normal"

The Turkish province of Hatay in the south of the country was particularly affected by the earthquakes, with around 270,000 buildings destroyed, over 23,000 people killed, and more than 30,000 injured. Elçin Ezel was trapped under the collapsed ceiling of her house for 81 hours. "It was dark and breathing got harder over time. I lost my children and my mother that day." She now lives in one of the containers in a camp established after the earthquakes like many other affected people.

Six months after the earthquake nothing is back to normal.


RS103110_Türkiye 6 months earthquake Hatay Elcin

Image: Tarek Satea/CARE

Among the severely affected population in Hatay is the Güler family, whose house partially collapsed due to the earthquake. Hüsamettin Güler now lives in a tent with his wife Selen and their children. "We need to start from zero again. There is no school for my children or any other activities”, he says. There is still no possibility of returning to a normal daily routine as most buildings are still at risk of collapse and not safe. The next challenge for many families living in temporary shelters will be the upcoming winter.

Nothing is left. And when the winter comes, we must have better shelter.


Türkiye 6 months earthquake Hatay Hüsameddin

Image: Tarek Satea/CARE

“I want to provide for my children without relying on anyone else's assistance”

In Northwest Syria, the earthquakes added an extra layer of complexity in an already multifaced humanitarian crisis affecting 4.5 million people, out of whom 90 per cent rely on humanitarian assistance to stay afloat, with the majority being women and children. In the aftermath of the February earthquakes, people who were already affected by years of war and a cholera outbreak since last year have lost their homes and community members in a matter of minutes and families were rendered homeless amid freezing temperatures.


Image: Shafak/CARE

Six months on, the humanitarian situation in northwest Syria remains dire, with 2 million people living in camps and over 3 million estimated to be food insecure. On top of this continuously deteriorating reality, extreme heat is now putting lives at risk with a high number of fires reported in July, damaging homes and tents in both the Idleb and northern Aleppo governorates. Families are coping with temperatures as high as over 40 Celsius degrees or more in the summer months, with limited or non-existent access to water.

In this fragile context, CARE in Northwest Syria has reached more than 675,000 people through shelter, food, water, sanitation and hygiene activities as well as health and protection support. However, the needs are great and the Security Council’s failure to reauthorize UN cross-border aid into Northwest Syria is only adding to the anxiety and uncertainty that Syrians living there are already enduring.

Sherine Ibrahim said:

“Even before the earthquakes struck, humanitarian needs were already at a record high since the 12-year war started. We must not forget Syria and the Syrian people. The Security Council’s failure to reauthorize UN cross-border aid into northwest Syria and the following uncertainty about Syria’s most vital lifeline is unacceptable, especially at a time when people who have experienced repeated displacements are still reeling from the devastation caused by the earthquakes only six months ago. It is critical the Security Council brings back a resolution that is functional and allows UN and NGO led operations to deliver humanitarian aid at scale.”

Today, six months after the earthquakes and with additional funding - after what's already been committed – for the survivors of the earthquakes in both Türkiye and Northwest Syria looking unlikely, we are extremely worried and it is our duty to remind governments and donors that the impact of the earthquakes and the socioeconomic long-term risks associated with it are quite alarming. It is of the utmost importance that the humanitarian response does not fade”, ends Sherine Ibrahim.

Your support could help families who lost everything.

Donate today

Latest news from CARE