Syria-Türkiye earthquakes: MSF supports treatment of thousands of injured people
Information about MSF’s response, below, is correct as of Feb. 8, 2023.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are providing and supporting medical care and relief assistance for thousands of injured people after the devestating earthquakes that hit Syria and Türkiye on Feb. 6.
Our teams have supported care for 3,465 injured people in health facilities in Syria’s Aleppo and Idlib governorates, and provided emergency medical items and kits to over 23 hospitals and clinics in northern Idlib. MSF emergency teams are assessing the needs in the most affected areas of southern Türkiye, and stands ready to provide assistance.
The search for survivors is ongoing following the earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye and northern Syria on Feb. 6. The United Nations has confirmed that more than 7,600 people have been killed and more than 20,000 injured across both countries, according to recent estimates. The death toll is expected to rise in both Türkiye and Syria, as many people are still trapped under rubble. MSF-supported facilities in northwestern Syria have recorded 551 deaths.
The few hospitals that remain functional in northwestern Syria are treating the wounded. However, many hospitals have been damaged and are unable to continue treating patients. For example, two MSF-supported maternity centres were evacuated due to the risk of the buildings collapsing.
“Our medical staff and partners in northwestern Syria have been working hard to treat patients since the first hours of the disaster,” says Joseph Belliveau, MSF executive director. “ Many of our staff have been impacted themselves, whether directly or indirectly, by the earthquakes. Some have lost their houses or their loved ones too.
Earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye: What is MSF doing?
MSF teams in northwestern Syria have been responding since the first hours of the disaster.
MSF treated more than 200 patients in Idlib within the first hours of the first earthquake. The teams activated an immediate response based on their emergency preparedness plan. MSF has increased bed capacity in our medical facilities by adding tents where needed.
Throughout the region, houses and buildings have been destroyed, leaving thousands of people homeless and without basic necessities like shelter, food, blankets, heating materials and hygiene items. Despite extremely cold weather, many people are sleeping outside or in their cars due to the fear of further aftershocks. In response, MSF teams are providing humanitarian assistance to people who’ve been displaced, including distributing blankets, hygiene kits and groceries to 2,500 families in the Jindires area of Aleppo governorate. MSF has also started a mobile clinic in Idlib governorate and is offering support to ambulances to facilitate the transfer of patients in need of emergency medical care.
“The massive consequences of this disaster will require an equally massive international response,” Belliveau says. “People urgently need shelter, food, blankets, clothes, heating materials, hygiene kits, and medical assistance – including access to mental health support.”
People in northwestern Syria have already been struggling to survive amid dire humanitarian conditions. Out of a population of four million in this region, approximately 2.8 million people were displaced before the earthquakes hit, many of them uprooted multiple times by the conflict.
“For Syrians living in the earthquake zone, this is a catastrophe layered on top of crisis after crisis,” Belliveau says. “People have endured more than a decade of war, an economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a recent cholera outbreak.”
In northwestern Syria, MSF already supports seven hospitals, including a burn unit, as well as 12 primary care centres, two chronic disease centres, and 11 mobile clinics working in camps for displaced people. In addition, MSF manages water and sanitation activities in more than 112 camps for people who are displaced in Idlib and Afrin governorates. MSF is not yet operational in Türkiye but stands ready to provide assistance and mobilize an emergency response.