News - 22.02.2023

MdM next to the earthquake survivors in Türkiye – Syria


On the night of February 6th, 2023, at 4:17 am local time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria so Turkey declared a three-month state of emergency in the 10 provinces most affected by the earthquake. This is the strongest earthquake recorded in the Turkish Republic since 1939. The earthquake was followed by 78 aftershocks and struck the region for the second time on the afternoon of February 6th at 13:24 pm with a magnitude of 7.5 in the province of Ekinozu. On Feb. 20, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake and a second magnitude 5.8 earthquake also struck Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, striking terror into those who stayed in an area devastated by the twin quakes two weeks ago.

After the earthquake of February 20, the Turkish Medical Association (Türk Tabipleri Birliği) announced that there is no longer a public hospital in Hatay that can provide health services. On 27 February, another 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey’s southern province of Malatya. The earthquakes were followed by a total of 9.990 aftershocks. The earthquakes led to the collapse of many buildings in the affected areas.


More than 53,000 have lost their lives and over 15 million people have been affected. In Syria at least 7,259 deaths have been reported, with the majority of victims recorded in Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartous. In Turkey, authorities count at least 45,089 deaths. More than a thousand buildings have completely collapsed, raising fears of even greater human losses.

The public hospitals in Hatay district are no longer able to provide health services. Field hospitals have been set up, which are operating below their capacity. Meanwhile, refugees in Hatay are mostly moving to Izmir and Istanbul where they are dealing with hate speech. Antakya has been largely evacuated, with the remaining residents being moved to designated tented areas. Excessive dust and asbestos in the city have reached levels that pose a public health danger. However, residents in other districts remain unmoved in their desire to remain in their own homes.

In Syria, housing, administration and health infrastructure have been severely damaged. The town of Jandairis in the western region of Afrin has been destroyed. People in Jandairs are forced to travel to Afrin for medical treatment in hospitals, which are more than 20 kilometres away by car. There are displaced people within northern Syria and from Turkey into Syria. About 42,000 Syrian refugees have returned to Syria as a result of the earthquake and difficult living conditions in Turkey, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry. Many refugees are forced to remain undocumented and without access to basic services such as education and healthcare when they are relocated to other cities.


Needs are increasingly high as the lack of access to public health services, which was identified as a significant challenge by 60% of local residents. At the same time, precautionary measures are being taken to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in the affected areas – such as influenza, measles, diarrhoea or scabies, and there is a need for even more tents for “winterization”. In addition, there is an urgent need for psychological support for the victims of the earthquake.

In Syria, there is an urgent need for a medical response due to the high level of damage to hospitals. Health services need medical kits, hygiene kits, first aid kits including bandaging materials, surgical supplies, bed covers and mattresses. As a consequence of new displacements within northern Syria and from Turkey into Syria, humanitarian needs are also expected to increase significantly, with estimates indicating a 22% increase in the level of assistance required. This situation is putting more pressure on aid agencies with Syrian displaced persons from Hatay appearing at MdM facilities in Idlib. In addition to extra tents, as there is insufficient shelter for all, there is a great need for financial support for earthquake-affected people across the regions in Turkey and Syria.


MdM mobile medical teams are on the ground in rural and urban areas of Hatay province, providing primary health care advice, medicines and psychosocial support. MdM’s stationary medical team provides its services in containers. At the same time, contamination of drinking water sources poses a significant risk of diseases transmitted through it, which is why MdM plans to provide information sessions and kits to prevent such diseases.

In Syria, three MdM primary health centers in Afrin and 5 in Idlib are open, and one of our orthopedic surgeons went to the hospital in Afrin to reinforce the medical team. At the same time, we are preparing to set up a temporary camp near Al-Kemmune clinic.

We face this new challenge with empathy for those affected and a heavy sense of responsibility towards the roots and humanitarian identity of the organization. MsM are strengthening emergency operations in all affected areas and are getting prepared for long-term support for people in need.

MdM are on the front line, providing first aid, health screenings, medicine distribution, psychological support and are in the process of creating safe spaces.

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