On February 6, two powerful earthquakes erupted across Türkiye and Syria. One of the deadliest earthquakes in over 20 years, the initial 7.8 magnitude earthquake was centered near Gaziantep, a city in south central Türkiye home to millions of Syrian refugees. The second 7.5 magnitude earthquake was felt nearly nine hours later, and almost 2,000 aftershocks have been reported. As of now, over 40,000 people have died, nearly 80,000 more have been injured, and 6,000 buildings have been destroyed – and numbers are only expected to rise. About 80,000 rescue personnel have been deployed, working in near-freezing temperatures searching for survivors among the rubble.
Islamic Relief is working with local partners across Türkiye and Syria to distribute emergency relief. In Türkiye, families are receiving food aid, hygiene kits, blankets, and cash assistance to help pay for any other immediate needs. In Syria, families are being provided with food aid; access to water, sanitation, and hygiene; and other emergency items such as blankets, mattresses, tents, and heating materials. While attention on the crisis has waned, the scale of suffering is now greater than ever. The recent emergency has only exacerbated the destruction caused by 12 years of conflict that has caused one of the world’s biggest displacement crises and forced more than 13 million people from their homes.
It’s been 12 years since the devastating conflict in Syria erupted and changed the lives of Syrians as they once knew. Roughly 6.9 million people are now displaced within Syria while 6.8 million have been forced out of their country – which when combined, amounts to more than half of the country’s population in distress.
With more than 70% of Syrians living in poverty, the standard of living has been set back by decades. Millions have lost their livelihoods and are unable to meet their basic needs including access to food, clean water, and health care. The children of Syria are of the most affected. Many don’t know life outside of war and will be forced to face the long-term effects of physical and mental trauma.
Funding to support people who have fled the violence has been falling short over the past few years. As Muslims, it is incumbent upon us to help our Syrian brothers and sisters. The international community must reinvigorate efforts to build long-term development in Syria beyond the current earthquake response.
“There is still rubble everywhere and the smell of death lingers in the ruins of people’s homes. I met Syrian refugees who have escaped horrific violence and bombing and are trying to build new lives, only to have everything they own ripped away in a flash by the earthquake.
“The earthquake must be put in the context of 13 years of crisis. Relief efforts must support long-term solutions that rebuild infrastructure damaged over the past 13 years, not just the past few weeks. Millions of people in Syria have been uprooted and homeless long before the earthquake struck, and hospitals are struggling from years of bombing and scarce supplies. After the earthquake we must not just return to the status quo, we must invest in Syria’s future by supporting people’s livelihoods and restoring public services such as healthcare and education.
“After 13 long and brutal years it feels like the world has largely forgotten the people of Syria. This is one of the defining crises of the 21st century and it is vital that we do not abandon people at this time of great need.” – Waseem Ahmad, Islamic Relief Worldwide CEO
Islamic Relief has been working in Syria since 2011. Since the start of the war, we have strived to help both families inside of Syria as well as those living in neighboring countries. Our work continues to this day, and will continue until the need for humanitarian aid no longer exists.
A few of our interventions include:
Thanks to you, we’ve been able to accomplish so much. But there’s still so much more to do. By continuing to support our efforts in Syria, you can help make a difference in the lives of those in desperate need.