2023 Turkey-Syria Earthquake


On Feb. 6, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred in southern Turkey near the northern border of Syria. This quake was followed approximately nine hours later by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake located around 59 miles (95 kilometers) to the southwest. As of Feb. 9, at least 1,206 aftershocks have been reported.

The earthquake was the most devastating to hit earthquake-prone Turkey in more than 20 years and was as strong as one in 1939, the most powerful recorded there.

The initial earthquake was centered near Gaziantep in south-central Turkey, home to thousands of Syrian refugees and the many humanitarian aid organizations also based there. Governments around the world were quick to respond to requests for international assistance, deploying rescue teams and offering aid. The country of Turkey is recognized in English as Türkiye by the United Nations.

Syria’s current complex humanitarian emergency is among the largest humanitarian crises in the world and the earthquake will only exacerbate the situation and vulnerabilities. One obstacle in assessing the death toll and response efforts in Syria is that the government does not control all the northwest, the area hardest hit by the earthquake.

In northwest Syria, 4.1 million people already depend on humanitarian assistance, the majority of whom are women and children. While countries have offered to support Turkey, getting aid to affected Syrians is likely to be more difficult, considering the country is not controlled by one authority. However, support to the most affected areas of Syria will be critical since the existing humanitarian response is largely overstretched with a funding gap of 48% identified for the last quarter of 2022. Limited capacities in northwest Syria, including the lack of equipment and fuel, continue to hamper search and rescue and recovery efforts.

In their Feb. 9 Flash Update, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) listed the following primary needs for northwest Syria: “1) heavy machines for debris removal, 2) cash distribution, 3) tents, isolation sheets and NFIs [non-food items], 4) heating materials, 5) emergency food and bread assistance, 6) water trucking and garbage removals, 7) ambulances and medicines, 8) fuel for hospitals and health centers, 9) rental trucks and vans to transport people, 10) reception centers for IDPs [internally displaced persons] and 11) safe spaces for women and girls.”

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