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Concern Worldwide escalates response as death toll rises in Turkey and Syria
Concern Worldwide is scaling up its emergency response in freezing conditions providing essential needs to thousands of people impacted by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
The Irish humanitarian organisation’s teams constructed tents and are distributing food, including hot soup, water and blankets in the worst affected areas of south east Turkey.
They are also helping to move people from unsafe areas and damaged buildings into community centres deemed to be earthquake proof so families have somewhere safe to sleep.
Entire neighbourhoods were flattened by the 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes that began at 4:17am local time on Monday, killing over 11,000 people so far with fears this toll could rise to 20,000.
“We are responding to the enormous needs of thousands of families made homeless from this disaster,” said Concern’s Programme Director in Turkey, Ali Fuat Sutlu, who witnessed much of the devastation.
“There are buildings in ruins, fires, fractures in roads blocking people and vehicles moving. Thousands are homeless in harsh sub-zero wintery conditions.
“Conditions here are worsening with temperatures below freezing and search and rescue responders running against time.
“It is believed there are thousands of people still under the rubble who need to be found and saved.
“This continues to be a terrifying experience for us all, but we will do everything we can to save lives and support people with basic needs like a warm and safe place to sleep, food and water.
“We are very grateful for all the support we are getting in Ireland and across the world.”
Concern was already working in the areas most affected in Turkey and working with partners in north-west Syria where many people were already displaced due to conflict.
The organisation’s 500 Turkish and Syrian staff survived the earthquakes, but were left traumatised and many are working from their cars due to the fear of more buildings collapsing during the hundreds of aftershocks that are still ongoing. Some were still in their night clothes when they responded to the emergency.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 23 million people across Turkey and Syria could be affected by the earthquakes, including 1.4 million children.
Concern launched an emergency appeal for Turkey and Syria and urges anyone who would like to support it to go to concern.net or to call 0818 410 510.
For more information or interview requests, please contact Kevin Jenkinson at [email protected] or call at 086 358 2886.
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