Turkey and Syria receive support from UK charity
Crucial supplies from the international disaster relief charity ShelterBox have arrived in Turkey and Syria to help people affected by the devastating earthquakes which have claimed more than 40,000 lives across the two countries.
The Cornwall-based charity has an emergency response team in Gaziantep – a large city in southern Turkey and one of many left devastated by the earthquakes.
More response team members continue to arrive in the city to bolster ShelterBox’s response efforts as the charity explores ways to scale up its response.
‘Our tents have arrived in Turkey on free flights by Turkish Airlines from Panama – where we had stock pre-positioned,’ says Sonja Hughes, ShelterBox Response Team Lead in Turkey.
‘We strategically pre-position aid all over the world to help get crucial supplies to disaster affected communities as quickly as we can.’
‘A truck of aid carrying thermal blankets has crossed the border into Syria and has reached our local partner, Bahar, who will be distributing our aid.’
‘We’re expecting more trucks of our aid to arrive in northern Syria in the coming days and weeks, containing more vital supplies.’
There are 4.6 million people in northwest Syria, and the charity says 4.1 million were already in need of humanitarian assistance before the earthquakes struck the region.
Refugees and internally displaced people who had fled from conflict in Syria have been uprooted once more leaving them without shelter again.
Survivors facing multiple threats
With nearly three million people already displaced by the war, communities are facing multiple threats, including harsh living condition, freezing temperatures and diseases (such as Cholera).
‘The freezing temperatures are presenting an immediate risk to life to people who are too afraid to return home, have no home to go back to, or in the area desperately seeking news of missing loved ones,’ adds Sonja.
‘We’ll be getting winter coats to children affected by the earthquakes in Syria through our existing partner, ReliefAid, which will help families protect their children from icy conditions.’
ReliefAid is planning to distribute clothing in the coming days to collective centres. ShelterBox has been working with Bahar and ReliefAid for a number of years as part of its response to the ongoing conflict in northern Syria.
Since arriving in Türkiye, ShelterBox’s response team has visited affected areas, where response efforts continue to find people under the rubble of collapsed buildings.
The in-country team is being supported round the clock by ShelterBox teams in the UK and around the world. The charity says a significant supply chain effort continues.
A hugely challenging humanitarian response
‘This is a hugely complex humanitarian response spanning two countries and one of the most challenging that ShelterBox and the international community have faced in the last decade,’ says Alice Jefferson, Head of Emergency Response at ShelterBox.
‘The numbers of people directly affected are numerically shocking – and we know that behind every statistic are people who need our help, including in very hard to reach, conflict affected regions.’
‘We are used to working in challenging environments and we are working with local authorities, partners, and Rotary, to make sure people affected by the earthquakes get the aid they need.’
The team is based in Gaziantep where pre-existing humanitarian hubs were based. The charity says the area is the best place to be as it allows for a well-coordinated response.
ShelterBox has an emergency fundraising appeal to help people affected by the earthquakes and other disasters around the world.
For more information visit www.shelterbox.org
Featured Image: ShelterBox aid being loaded on flights out of Panama free of charge via Turkish Airlines and supported by the Government of Türkiye and Rotary. Supplied courtesy of ShelterBox.