Earthquake Emergency in Türkiye: an unprecedented humanitarian disaster

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A little over 3 weeks have passed since the strong tremors devastated Türkiye and Syria and the numbers are those of an unprecedented humanitarian disaster: 17 million people affected, 50,000 people dead, hundreds of thousands injured and over 1 million people with no homes to return to (local authorities and IBC, February 2023).

We of CESVI immediately took action with our partners in the Alliance2015 European network to provide the people who lost everything with life-saving items, personal hygiene kits, tents to shelter from the cold and emergency psychological assistance.

But now, with the search and rescue operations coming to an end, millions of people – both adults and, in particular, children – are coming to terms with the loss of their loved ones, their homes and the trauma of the earthquake and days and nights spent under rubble.

The situation is particularly worrying in the districts of Kahramanmaraş and Adıyaman, where, at the moment, the presence of humanitarian actors is lower and there are no accessible psychosocial support services.

People keep reliving those dramatic hours in their minds, even several times during the day. They cannot sleep, waking up in terror. They have lost their appetite and have not eaten for days, risking further aggravating their condition. Added to all this is the anxiety of losing their homes, money running out and uncertainty about the future.

CESVI’s response in Türkiye: Kahramanmaraş and Adıyaman

CESVI is intervening precisely in these regions, together with ACTED and our Emergency Team working tirelessly to reach the most vulnerable people in need of immediate support.

In the coming weeks, CESVI workers will continue the distribution of life-saving humanitarian aid, providing those who have lost everything with tents large enough for a family, complete with mattresses, blankets, lights and water canisters, stoves for heating in the winter cold and sets of tools for cooking.

In addition, to ensure personal dignity and limit the spread of disease, we will continue to provide hygiene kits to the population in collective centres, tent cities and informal camps in the suburbs and countryside. The kits will contain nappies, sanitary towels, soap, detergents, wet wipes and bags to collect waste. This will be accompanied by the construction of latrines and public toilets near the settlements.

At the same time, the CESVI team provides community-based psychosocial support services to combat post-traumatic stress due to the earthquake and its tragic aftermath. In community centres and remote villages, thanks to mobile units, our staff organise group and individual sessions for both adults and children.

Particular attention is given to the latter. Most of the children in fact show clear symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, having lost relatives, friends and having experienced the very strong earthquakes that were repeated for days. The children have lost all points of reference: many no longer have a family, lack a school, lack peer support.

For them, CESVI will build Child Safe Spaces, safe spaces where they can receive psychosocial and emotional support appropriate to their age and needs. Activities will be set up aimed at gradually resuming leisure and study activities – to bring back a sense of normality in their lives after the emergency – and will provide pathways to reduce their stress, improve their well-being and physical, social and emotional development, as well as promote the communication of their emotions.

© Photo credits: Fabrizio Spucches / CESVI