22 February, 2023
ADRA Continues to Deliver Aid at Ground Zero
A second major earthquake and dozens of strong aftershocks hit the devastated region of Syria and Türkiye (previously known as Turkey), resulting in additional deaths, injuries, and destruction, but ADRA remains committed to assisting the region’s impacted communities despite the tremors.
The most recent 6.3 magnitude earthquake, followed by dozens of significant tremors, struck Türkiye southern Hatay province near the Syrian border on Monday, February 20, killing at least six people, injuring hundreds, and trapping many more. (*Numbers are subject to change daily.)
“Our ADRA emergency response team was a little shaken by the recent earthquake, but we are thankful to God that they are safe and continue to provide aid in the most affected areas,” says Mario Oliveira, director of emergency response management for ADRA International. “In this crisis, one of ADRA’s primary goals is to provide families with livelihoods so that they can become self-sufficient and rebuild their lives. We have been helping the region’s communities for many years, even before the current crisis, and we will continue to assist.”
According to UN reports, the latest seismic event in Turkey and Syria affected the area that was hit by massive earthquakes and over 1,600 aftershocks on February 6, where tens of thousands of victims were trapped under the rubble, over 116,000 were injured, and nearly 50,000 were killed. (*Numbers are subject to change on a daily.)
“ADRA has several staff on the ground with multiple years of experience in responding to disasters who know what to look for and how to respond quickly and are able to give the best assistance at any moment,” says Kelly Dowling, emergency response program manager for ADRA International.
At least ten provinces in the region have declared a state of emergency, according to government officials. Over 7 million children live in the devastated areas and may have been impacted by the widespread destruction.
ADRA has been distributing food, water, clothing, hygiene kits, stoves, and essential supplies since the disaster, as well as sheltering displaced families and implementing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects. To ensure that aid and resources reach affected communities, the humanitarian organization is collaborating with the Adventist Church, government leaders, and trusted partners. ADRA is working to secure tents, portable toilets, solar-powered lights, and gas heaters for impacted communities, as well as micro-grants for shelter-related needs
An estimated 5 million people are now homeless. Syria’s ongoing civil war has already displaced thousands in the most severely affected areas. Over 12,000 buildings, including 48 health facilities and 1,100 schools, were severely damaged or destroyed in Syria and Türkiye. Rescue efforts and homeless families have also been hampered by the bitter cold.
“So many people are sleeping in their cars, sleeping in makeshift tents, and in makeshift shelters. Some are afraid to go home because they’re worried about aftershocks and further damage,” says Kelly Dowling, emergency response program manager for ADRA International.
During the first week following the disaster, one of ADRA’s highly specialized technicians assisted the Hungarian search and rescue team in locating people buried beneath the rubble near Hatay, Türkiye, where 500,000 people lost their homes. The global organization supplied critical tools for rescue operations such as hammers and drills, as well as concrete and metal cutting equipment.
“We rescued six people including two children,” says Zoltan Sitkei, ADRA country director for Hungary, and search and rescue technician/paramedic. “It took us 14 hours to save a lady, who was found by our team. It was very difficult to get her out. We worked with the Turkish fire brigade. But finally, we found a solution and got her out.”
It is feared that sewage lines have contaminated water lines, resulting in a cholera outbreak. As a result, ADRA is working with Syrian municipalities to improve community access to water. It is supplying generators to urgently repair pumping stations to restore the water supply.