(Issue Mon 5th Feb 2024) Tomorrow, Tues 6th Feb, GOAL marks one year on since the catastrophic earthquake struck Southern Türkiye and Northwest Syria, which claimed the lives of over 55,000 people and left over 100,000 injured across the region. The earthquake and aftershocks caused 400kms of destruction. At least 230,000 buildings in Southern Türkiye and 10,600 in Northwest Syria were completely or partially destroyed. The earthquake was also an especially personal tragedy for GOAL, as 32 of the agency’s humanitarian aid staff very sadly lost their lives that day.
International media attention in the weeks that followed the earthquake was intense and Governments and donors around the world were quick to respond to requests for international assistance, deploying rescue teams and offering aid. Countries offered support to Türkiye and funded flash appeals for AFAD, the governmental disaster management agency which operates under the Turkish Ministry of Interior, and which supported the response. But international funding and supplies were slower to materialize in Northwest Syria and has limited rebuilding and recovery efforts.
Speaking about the earthquake response in Northwest Syria, Jeannie Zielinski, Country Director, GOAL Syria Response Programme said,
“Syria had already been experiencing a complex humanitarian emergency due to an ongoing conflict. Even before the earthquake, 2.7 million people were already displaced, and 4.1 million people were reliant on humanitarian assistance. The earthquake only exacerbated an already precarious situation and protracted humanitarian crisis”.
“With a team of over 800 staff, based in Northwest Syria, we were well positioned to step into action quickly following the earthquake, escalating the distribution of clean water, bread, and emergency cash to affected populations in Idlib and Northern Aleppo. A year on, GOAL continues to support displaced people in Northwest Syria by delivering shelter, nutrition support, water, sanitation, food, cash, and voucher assistance. GOAL also offers vocational training, job matching programs and psychosocial programs to help displaced people develop healthy coping strategies while facing protracted displacement.” continued Jeannie Zielinski.
Alex Milutinovic, Country Director, GOAL Türkiye also emphasized the significance of the agency’s rapid response to the earthquake, stating,
“GOAL has been operational in Southern Türkiye since 2016, with offices in Ankara, Adana, Hatay, Gaziantep and areas that span the earthquake zone, largely supporting Syrian refugees. So, we were able to leverage our deep-rooted networks and regional expertise and deliver critical assistance swiftly.”
“In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, we provided shelter, medical supplies, water, sanitation, food, cash, and psychosocial support. And over the past year our team has continued to provide food assistance and shelter solutions. And we deliver programs to promote coping strategies and resilient health in the face of long-term displacement, and we offer language skills and life-skills training for job opportunities and to build financial resilience” continued Alex Milutinovic.
Also marking one year on from the earthquake today, Lorraine Marriott, GOAL’s Middle East Regional Director said,
“GOAL reaffirms its dedication to supporting refugees in Southern Türkiye and Northern Syria. And with the help of the international humanitarian aid sector, millions of displaced people across this vast region continue to make strides in restoring their communities, following the seismic and devastating earthquake and amid continued protracted conflict. But we all continue to depend on adequate international funding so that we do not erode the progress we are slowly trying to make.”
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