UN launches $1bn appeal for 5m earthquake victims in Turkey, Syria

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Lagos, Feb. 17, 2023 -The UN has launched a $1 billion appeal for Turkey to assist more than five million people affected by earthquakes, the largest to hit the country in a century.

The cataclysmic earthquakes struck southern and central Turkey and northern and western Syria on February 6.

The funding, which covers three months, will allow aid organisations to ramp up their operations to support government-led response efforts in areas that include food security, protection, education, water and shelter.

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, urged the international community to step up and fully fund the response effort.

“Türkiye is home to the largest number of refugees in the world and has shown enormous generosity to its Syrian neighbours for years.

“Now is the time for the world to support the people of Türkiye, just as they have stood in solidarity with others seeking assistance,” he said.

Martin Griffiths, The UN’s Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, also called for countries to support the appeal.

“The people of Türkiye have experienced unspeakable heartache.’’

Mr Griffiths, who visited the country last week, said: “I met families who shared their stories of shock and devastation. We must stand with them in their darkest hour and ensure they receive the support they need.” 

The UN and partners have been rushing to support Türkiye and neighbouring Syria in the wake of the devastating earthquakes that struck on February 6.

No fewer than nine million people in Turkey alone have been directly impacted by the once-in-a-generation disaster, which has left 35,000 people dead, according to the latest figures from the government.

The earthquakes struck at the peak of winter, leaving hundreds of thousands of people – including small children and elderly people – without access to shelter, food, water, heaters and medical care in freezing temperatures.

Some 47,000 buildings have been destroyed or damaged, including schools, hospitals and other essential services.

Thousands of people have sought refuge in temporary shelters across the country. Many families have been separated, and hundreds of children are now orphaned or unable to be reunited with their parents.

The UN is coordinating the operations of thousands of search-and-rescue personnel in five provinces – Adiyaman, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş and Malatya – and humanitarian organisations have begun relief operations in the hardest-hit areas, in support of the Government-led response.

Together with partners, the UN is delivering hot meals, food, tents, warm winter clothing, blankets, mattresses and kitchen sets to people in need and dispatching medical supplies and personnel to affected areas.

Similarly, on Tuesday, the secretary general announced a $397 million humanitarian appeal to aid the people of earthquake-ravaged Syria, to help secure “desperately needed” relief for nearly five million people.

Mr Guterres, in an interview with UN correspondents in New York, said that aid “must get through from all sides” and the funding would cover an initial three months.

“In the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, the United Nations rapidly provided $50 million through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), but the needs are immense.

“The Syria effort brings together the entire UN system and humanitarian partners and will help secure desperately needed, life-saving relief for nearly five million Syrians, including shelter, healthcare, food and protection,” he said. (GBN)

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