Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria

Picking up the pieces.

Earthquake Northwestern Syria, 7 February 2023

Syria 2023 © Omar Haj Kadour

Alert is a quarterly magazine published by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF-USA) that features ground reporting from our work around the world. This article appears in the Spring 2023 issue (Vol. 24, no. 1), Healing Mind and Body.

Two months after devastating earthquakes struck southeastern Türkiye and northwestern Syria, killing and injuring tens of thousands of people, the emergency is ongoing and the mental health needs remain especially high. In response, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mobile clinic teams in Syria have provided more than 450 mental health consultations. We’ve also launched a mental health hotline to provide psychosocial support in the region.

In Türkiye, MSF is working in partnership with local organizations to support the response. We have provided mental health and psychosocial support to volunteers and rescue teams helping people affected by the disaster and donated materials for psychosocial workshops.

There are around 4 million people living in northwestern Syria, 2.8 million of whom have already been displaced—some more than once. Some people have been displaced 20 times. Some of these people have been unable to leave the country because they lack resources, or they choose to remain to take care of their relatives who are sick, need support, or are unwilling to leave the country of their birth. On top of this, there are more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Türkiye, the majority of whom were living in the four provinces most affected by the earthquakes.

"People are sad and desperate; they are anxious and uncertain about their future. Many are reliving their experiences in their minds and believe it could happen again." 

Ricardo Martinez, logistics coordinator and leader of one of the first MSF emergency teams to arrive in Türkiye
Testimonies - Voices from Adiyaman, Türkiye
Nazlican, 22, was a student studying English at a university in Adiyaman before the earthquakes hit. She now lives in a container with her parents and six siblings.
Türkiye 2023 © Igor Barbero/MSF

"I'm still shocked. I can't come to terms with what happened. The disaster is still ongoing...the needs are immense."

Samar, MSF health promotion supervisor in northwestern Syria
MSF response to the earthquakes through Atmeh Hospital
Syria 2023 © Abdul Majeed Al Qareh

"One of the biggest needs now is mental health. Imagine if you are living in a camp, in a tent, in a makeshift house, after maybe many years of conflict without any kind of hope for what may happen tomorrow? The mental health burden is severe." 

Sherwan Qasem, originally from Syria, currently working with MSF’s emergency team in Amsterdam
Mobile clinic in Al-Fuqara camp in Al-Dana area
An aerial view of MSF’s mobile clinic in the Al-Fuqara camp, Al-Dana area.
Syria 2023 © Abdul Majeed Al Qareh/MSF

April 03 10:26 AM

Alert Spring 2023: Healing mind and body

How MSF provides mental health care to people caught in crisis.

Read More
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