2023 Syria – Kurdistan Earthquake

 Two powerful earthquakes have left thousands of families homeless including many Syrians living in conflict zones.

Up to 23 million people will be affected by the devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey – including at least 1.4 million children. Syrians who were affected are already living in displacement following 12 years of relentless conflict and war. Many communities in these areas include vulnerable refugees, who were already struggling.

Those whose homes have been destroyed in the disaster have been forced onto the streets or into basic makeshift camps with only the clothes on their backs. With heavy rain, snow and bitterly cold winds to contend with, help is urgently needed – especially as victims are likely to remain in primitive shelters for months to come.

The earthquake contour map below produced by the US Geological Survey (USGS) is combined with 2022 conflict zones in Syria and areas of control (https://syria.liveuamap.com). Contours show the earthquake intensity (MMI) from the first earthquake and squares show people’s reaction to the quake – close to the epicentre it was felt strongest, but also in the region near Aleppo and it was also strongly felt from southern Turkey and into northern Syria. The most northern part of Syria is controlled by either Turkey (to the West) or Kurdish military groups and shows recent areas subjected to Turkish bombardment or aerial strikes as recently as 1 February.

Click and drag on the centre bar to compare the two maps.

The map highlights the issues with getting aid into this part of Syria because it is not in the interests of either the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or Türkiye President Erdoğan, to allow international assistance into the Kurdish areas. After 10 years of hostilities and significant violations of international humanitarian law, it is only through pressure from the international community they are reluctantly allowing assistance into the region.

In Northwest Syria, 4.1 million people depended on humanitarian assistance. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates at least six million people in Syria have been affected by the earthquake. Temperatures can fall to as low as -10ºC in this region, causing suffering to many children as they try to cope without warm clothes. Without warmth, the body becomes prone to illness and disease, which can spread quickly and lead to many more deaths. Exposure to acute cold during sleep can also cause pneumonia, flu, frostbite and hypothermia.

Operation Hope has a long-term relationship with The Lotus Flower, a Non Government Organisation based in the U.K. with three women’s centres in refugee camps in the Duhok region of Kurdish Iraq. The Lotus Flower, through its strong connections to NGO Khalsa Aid International is able to ship and distribute critically needed coats, jackets and socks to target 1,800 children in some of the worst-affected areas, where the organisation already has access for providing relief.

We are aiming to secure $15,000 of funds, which will provide essential jackets, coats and socks for girls and boys aged 1-14:

• 700 jackets for ages 1-6

• 700 jackets for ages 7-12

• 700 jackets for ages 12-14

• 200 pairs of socks

For children living in the aftermath of these deadly earthquakes, ensuring we can provide this warm clothing could mean the difference between life and death.

Please donate generously. 100% of your donation will be used for purchasing warm clothes.

Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times

AFP/Photo by Nayef Al-Aboud