Turkey Syria earthquake

Turkey-Syria earthquake 2023

Turkey Syria earthquake flooding

A month after the earthquakes struck, severe flooding affected many of the camps in Syria where displaced people were staying. Our partner organisation responded by suctioning water through pumps and distributing vital supplies. Photo: ActionAid

Turkey-Syria earthquake facts and figures 

  • More than 23 million people are estimated to have been affected by the disaster. 
  • More than 55,000 people lost their lives. 
  • Almost 110,000 more people were injured. 
  • Around 3 million people have been displaced in Turkey, along with 2.9 million people in Syria. 
  • More than 54,000 buildings, including hospitals and schools, were destroyed or damaged. 
Turkey Syria earthquake

A map of the Turkey-Syria earthquake, showing the epicentres. Photo: ActionAid

ActionAid’s response to the Turkey-Syria earthquakes 

ActionAid launched an emergency response in the aftermath of the earthquake, to meet the urgent needs of those affected; this included shelter, food, medical aid, warm clothing, heaters and cash transfers.  

In North-west Syria we partnered with a local organisation named Violet, who were one of the first and only aid agencies operating in this region. This activity included search and rescue in the rubble of destroyed buildings and distributing warm clothing, blankets and firewood to more than 5,000 people.  

We provided seven mobile ambulances, which were equipped to provide urgent medical care for 90 days at the beginning of the emergency. In total we provided medical care to more than 1,300 people. 

Our partnership with Violet also included carrying out counselling and events like puppet shows and playtime for children in the region, many of whom had suffered severe trauma. We also set up safe spaces for women and girls, to prevent and respond to cases of gender-based violence

Overall our response reached more than 60,342 people, including supporting 32,600 people with food distributions, and providing other vital supplies like hygiene kits, shelter, blankets and thermal clothing to more than 13,800 people. 

Adawiya and her family are refugees who had already been displaced in Syria when the earthquakes struck.

Sonya Al Ali Maara / ActionAId

Surviving the earthquakes: Adawiya’s story 

Adawiya is a mother of six children from Syria - they had already been displaced from their home in El-Deir to the north-west region during the war. 

She and her family survived the earthquakes, but were left homeless. “We were sleeping, but we woke up when the earthquake happened,” she told us. “We did not know where to go. 

My children were screaming. The building collapsed. We survived miraculously.  

“We were barefoot. We were not wearing enough clothes. We saw the destruction. Everyone was screaming. We spent the night on the streets.” 

Thanks to ActionAid support, our local partner organisation in Syria, Violet, provided mental health support to Adawiya’s children, who had been left terrified after the earthquakes. 

Ongoing humanitarian needs in Turkey and Syria 

As of June 2023, the humanitarian crisis following this disaster is still extremely serious. In Syria in particular, it is estimated that 15.3 million people are in need. Water, health and sanitation systems remain severely compromised, and more than 40,000 cases of cholera have been recorded so far this year. 

The global cost of living crisis is exacerbating poor conditions, as people’s purchasing power has been weakened. Meanwhile the risks of gender-based violence have increased in short-term encampments, and damage to schools has forced more children to drop out of school. 

ActionAid continues to work with affected communities in both Syria and Turkey, distributing cash transfers and hygiene kits, rebuilding sanitation facilities and providing emotional support and safe spaces – particularly for vulnerable women and girls who have experienced distress and trauma as a result of the disaster. 

Rising prices in Syria: Alia’s story 

Alia and her family were able to escape the building they were staying in in Syria, which collapsed when the earthquake struck. “It felt like the apocalypse,” she told us. “We started screaming and we miraculously escaped with the kids. When we came back shortly after, we found the neighbourhood destroyed. 

“Only Violet organisation, may God bless them, offered us help, including food parcels. This is the first organisation to welcome us to this camp.” 

In the aftermath of the disaster, she told us that food and other essentials soared in price:

Everything is expensive, such as basic needs, heating, food and even rentals [accommodation]. Traders are showing no mercy during such hard times.” 

Along with food parcels, Alia and her family received mental health support from Violet, our partner organisation. 

Alia, a survivor of the earthquakes from Syria.

Sonya Al Ali Maara/ActionAid


Top image: Destruction caused by the earthquake in Hatay, Turkey. Cansu yıldıran / ActionAid

Page updated 23 January 2024