ALEXANDRIA, Va – Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has released the following statement:
One year since the devastating Turkiye-Syria earthquakes, hundreds of thousands of survivors are still living in temporary shelters and malnutrition is rising.
Some of the most vulnerable people, including young children and the elderly, are still living in tents or basic shelters with rain leaking through the roof in the freezing winter, and without adequate access to healthcare, safe water or education.
The earthquakes, which struck on February 6, 2023, were the worst to hit the region in over a century, killing around 57,000 people and destroying or damaging more than 137,000 homes. The cost of recovery and reconstruction is estimated to be up to $80 billion.
A year on, Islamic Relief is calling on the world not to forget the survivors who have lost their homes and livelihoods.
Many survivors are now struggling to eat, with crops and agricultural infrastructure wiped out by the earthquake. The cost of living has doubled since the earthquakes hit and the price of food has spiralled out of reach for many families. In northwest Syria the number of people in need of food assistance has risen to around 3.7 million, but funding cuts mean the number of people receiving food aid has halved. The UN World Food Programme has had to end its general food assistance programme, leaving many extremely vulnerable families without their main source of food.
Islamic Relief staff report an increase in child labour and early marriage as families struggle to survive, and rising numbers of families trapped in mounting debt.
Humanitarian aid from around the world has had an enormous positive impact on affected communities, but the scale of the disaster means that much more long-term support is needed.
Mohammed Rebii, Islamic Relief’s head of mission for Syria, says: “Over the past year Islamic Relief has been rebuilding infrastructure and livelihoods, but the needs are still enormous and the earthquake continues to ruin lives. Young children who have lost all their family have had to drop out of school to look for work. Elderly people are sleeping in makeshift tents in the freezing winter, and when they get sick they can’t access healthcare. Farmers who lost all their crops and equipment are still struggling to recover and are getting trapped in debt. Around 1 million people of all ages need mental health support because of the horrific scenes they witnessed during the earthquakes, on top of years of bombing and violence. One year on, we hope the world does not forget them.”
The earthquakes struck some of the poorest communities in the region – even before the earthquakes, 90% of people in northwest Syria were already relying on humanitarian aid to survive.
Ahmad, a 43-year-old father of five who fled Syria and is now living in southern Turkiye, saw his family’s home destroyed in the earthquake. They now live in a caravan nearby. He told Islamic Relief of the daily struggle to feed and care for his children over the past year: “Life after the earthquake became even more challenging. The cost of everyday necessities such as food and groceries skyrocketed. I remember when 50 Turkish Lira was sufficient for our daily needs – now even 200 Lira is barely enough. One of my children fell ill, requiring medical attention that we could scarcely afford and adding to our mounting debts.”
Islamic Relief provided emergency relief in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, and over the past year has been rebuilding homes, repairing infrastructure such as water systems, health facilities and schools, and supporting farmers and herders to restore their livelihoods. The charity is also supporting around 4,000 orphan children affected by the earthquake.
Syed M. Hassan
(571) 421-7032 (CELL)
Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization. Its mission is to provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world. Its programs benefit millions of people each year in more than 40 countries around the world, including in the United States.
Islamic Relief USA meets all of the Standards for Charity Accountability of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a national charity monitoring group affiliated with the Better Business Bureau system. Islamic Relief USA is on the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity list, and it is also a signatory to the code of conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.