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A. Murad Akdoğan

H. Gülay Malkoç

February 14th, 2023

Turkey-Syria earthquake: A long road to recovery

0 comments | 9 shares

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

A. Murad Akdoğan

H. Gülay Malkoç

February 14th, 2023

Turkey-Syria earthquake: A long road to recovery

0 comments | 9 shares

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

The earthquake has had a widespread impact, including on neighbouring countries Syria and Lebanon, and has left over 13.5 million people homeless, including 2 million refugees. The disaster highlights the need for long-term financial, technical, and humanitarian support from the international community to recover from this tragedy. Murad Akdoğan and Gülay Malkoç Senior Political Science and International Relations students at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University give an overview of the scale of the disaster and potential challenges to recovery.

The scale of the disaster

On February 6, at 04.18, a major earthquake occurred along the southeastern border of Turkey. The initial tremor of 7.8 magnitude resulted in the collapse of thousands of homes across ten provinces in Turkey and Syria. Approximately 12 hours later, a second earthquake, measuring 7.6 volumes, hit the Kahramanmaraş province. Due to the substantial magnitudes of these twin earthquakes, they had a widespread impact, including in Syria and Lebanon. According to reports from Turkey’s disaster agency, casualties have risen above 25,000, with over 80,000 individuals sustaining injuries in Turkey alone in less than one week.

According to an expert in the field of seismology Stephen Hicks from University College London, in a hypothetical scenario where twin earthquakes were to strike England, the affected area would extend from the Severn Estuary to the Humber Estuary. Hicks elaborates that cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, and Bristol would likely experience devastating consequences in a comparable scenario.

A comparison on the map of England via expatguideturkey.com .

Although earthquakes of this scale are not entirely unprecedented in this region of Turkey, given its location near two fault lines, the recent 7.6 and 7.8 magnitude earthquakes in have highlighted the country’s lack of preparedness for such disasters, as reported by the U.S. Geological Survey. The quakes resulted in catastrophic collapses due to the vulnerability of the structures in the region, with buildings made of unreinforced brick masonry and low-rise concrete frames being at the highest risk. The USGS warns that these materials are too stiff to withstand intense shaking and are more likely to buckle, leading to collapses. Despite the existence of better building codes, the region has yet to routinely experience earthquakes of this magnitude, making the structures particularly susceptible to damage.

The challenges of harsh weather conditions and Syria’s war

According to the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), in Turkey, more than 166,000 search and rescue workers are currently employed in the field, and about 92,700 individuals have been relocated from earthquake-affected areas. Additionally, numerous nations have sent rescue teams and assistance in expressions of solidarity with the country.

Additionally, CNN underlines that the earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria face the threat of “a secondary disaster” as cold and snow worsen the conditions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO’s incident response manager, Robert Holden, warned that many people were surviving in “worsening and horrific conditions” with significant disruptions to basic supplies like water, fuel, electricity, and communication. Although the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) managed to send a convoy of aid across the Bab al-Hawa border crossing from Turkey to Syria, the delivery of assistance to the quake-hit areas in northern Syria has been complicated by the long-running civil war. The residents in the region are struggling to find food, water, and other essential supplies, with hospitals overwhelmed by bodies and diseases threatening to spread.

The 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake has added to Syria’s existing humanitarian crisis, with the country’s northwest region being the hardest-hit area, as the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) stated. This area is home to 4.1 million people, primarily women and children, and relies on humanitarian assistance. The delivery of aid is expected to be challenging due to the lack of government control over the affected area and the limited capacities, including a shortage of funding and equipment, in northwest Syria.

Immediate relief efforts and mitigation against future disasters

On the whole, the earthquake has left almost 13.5 million people homeless, including as many as 2 million refugees, so Turkey and Syria face a significant challenge. While immediate search and rescue efforts are underway, these countries will require long-term financial, technical, and humanitarian support from the international community to recover from this disaster fully. In addition to the immediate need for food, water, and shelter in the cold, the countries will also require assistance with rebuilding homes and infrastructure and supporting the psychological needs of the affected population. Furthermore, there is a need to address the underlying causes of the damage caused by the earthquakes, such as poor enforcement of building standards and a lack of retrofitting in older buildings. The international community needs to unite and support Turkey and Syria to help them recover from this tragedy.

In response to this disaster, various NGOs, agencies, municipalities, and individual groups have initiated fundraising efforts to support the affected population. These institutions aim to raise money for those affected by the disaster and encourage the community to support their efforts. The event is an opportunity for the community to come together and positively impact the lives of those in need. Even with these efforts, the Turkish and Syrian people are still in dire need of assistance. It is essential for collective action, including the involvement of individuals, organizations, and governments, to support those affected by the earthquake and alleviate their suffering. Similarly, many institutions support humanitarian aid in the region, help the region to be suitable for human life again, and organize aid campaigns.

For those who want to help, the donation links to some of these institutions are below:

https://ahbap.org/disasters-turkey
https://giving.unhcr.org/en/sy/
https://www.akut.org.tr/en/donation
https://www.dec.org.uk/appeal/turkey-syria-earthquake-appeal
https://www.whitehelmets.org/en/
https://molhamteam.com/en/donate


The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect those of the International Development LSE blog or the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Featured image credit: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation via Flickr.

About the author

A. Murad Akdoğan

A. Murad Akdoğan is a senior Political Science and International Relations student at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University. His areas of interest as an undergraduate research assistant are political economy of development and public policy. abdurrahman.akdogan@boun.edu.tr linkedin.com/in/murad-akdogan/

H. Gülay Malkoç

H. Gülay Malkoç is a senior Political Science & IR student at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey. As an undergraduate research assistant, her research interest lies in international governance, human rights, and gender studies. hayriye.malkoc@boun.edu.tr linkedin.com/in/gulaymalkoc/ twitter.com/gulaymlkc

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