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5 Things You Should Know About the Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

Early in the morning on February 6, massive earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria. For many of us who live thousands of miles away from the devastation, it can be hard to imagine the profound scale of loss — and even harder to know how best to respond.  

And yet, if you’re like us, your faith compels you to respond. 

At World Relief, our mission is to empower the local church to serve the most vulnerable. When natural disasters like this one occur, those who are already in vulnerable situations are put at even greater risk. By responding together, we can extend the love of Christ to those who are suffering in their greatest time of need. 

That’s why we’ve shared five things you should know about what’s happening in Turkey and Syria, why we at World Relief are responding and how you can join us in praying for and serving those who are suffering.

1. How widespread is the impact of the earthquakes?

The earthquakes struck in the early morning hours in a region that has not experienced a major earthquake in over 200 years, leaving residents little prepared. As a result, the devastation has been widespread and severe.

At the time of writing, an estimated 36,187 have died in Turkey and more than 5,800 in Syria — and these numbers continue to rise. More than 5 million people across Syria are now in need of shelter while nearly a million more men, women and children are now homeless in Turkey as a result of the earthquakes. Basic infrastructure, including power and water, has been completely demolished in some areas.

The earthquake’s devastation is further compounded by freezing winter temperatures and, in Syria, decades of civil war have left residents especially vulnerable.

2. What are the greatest needs and how is World Relief responding?

As those impacted grapple with freezing temperatures, decimated infrastructure and profound loss and trauma, the greatest immediate needs include shelter, water, power, blankets, non-food and sanitary items and psychosocial counseling. 

World Relief is responding on the ground through long-standing, trusted partners, including Tearfund Germany and the Integral Alliance. Our partners are connected with local churches and organizations in Turkey and Syria who can more quickly deliver aid — especially in hard-to-reach regions or where international aid may be restricted by governing authorities due to protracted conflicts.

Our local partners are working especially hard to provide assistance to the most vulnerable, including the elderly, children and persons with disabilities.

Thus far, our response efforts have included: 

  • Establishing mobile kitchens and distribution centers for food, water, hygiene supplies, emergency shelter, heaters, batteries, tools and more
  • Operating mobile hygiene trailers that offer toilets, showers and washing machines
  • Facilitating a kids club and trauma counseling center for children impacted by the disaster
  • Providing mobility devices such as wheelchairs, protheses and walkers to those who need them

To stay up-to-date on how we’re responding to this and other crises around the world, sign up for our mailing list, here.

3. What will happen after the initial response?

Natural disasters on the scale of what we’re seeing in Turkey and Syria affect every facet of life. Responding immediately is essential to ensure the survival and safety of as many people as possible. At the same time, we at World Relief understand that rebuilding and restoring what has been broken — whether infrastructure or lives — takes time and commitment. 

That’s why we’re beginning conversations with our trusted partners in the region to determine how we can best come alongside local communities so that they not only survive the current crisis, but can flourish and thrive in the future. In places like Syria, which have already been wracked by unimaginable conflict and loss, this commitment is all the more important.

4. Has World Relief worked in the affected region before?

Yes! World Relief formerly had programming in both Syria and Turkey which we transferred to our partners at Tearfund Germany in 2019. We continue to have a strong relationship with Tearfund Germany, allowing us to respond quickly and effectively through our partners who are still at work in the region. 

Additionally, World Relief has been helping Syrian refugees resettle in the U.S. for over a decade. Members of the Syrian community in the U.S. have become our coworkers, neighbors and friends. We are grieving and praying alongside them at this difficult time. 

5. How can I help?

  • Pray: As in all things, we first turn to prayer. Pray for those who are still missing to be found, for the injured to be healed, for the hungry to be fed, for the cold and weary to find shelter and for the grieving to be comforted. Pray also for those responding to do so with wisdom and endurance.  
  • Give: You can rush help to Turkey and Syria by giving today. Your donation will support our partners at work in the region, ensuring more help can reach more people in this time of great need.
  • Share: As the news cycle moves on to the latest headlines, you can help keep Turkey and Syria in the prayers of your friends, family and neighbors by sharing what you’ve learned in this blog.

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