It is expected that the death toll will increase dramatically in the coming days and weeks as more victims are found in the rubble.
Entire buildings have collapsed on both sides of the border, leaving thousands more injured, trapped or homeless in the bitter winter cold and freezing rain.
“This earthquake will have a long-term impact on people’s lives,” said Hombeline Duliere, CAFOD’s Syria Crisis Response manager.
“People have lost their lives, their homes, and their livelihoods. The impact will last not for days or even months, but for years.”
In Turkey’s south, poor internet connectivity and damaged roads have hindered efforts to assess the damage and respond in the worst-hit areas. The epicentre of the quake, Gaziantep, is also home to half a million Syrian refugees.
Syria is nearly at breaking point after 12 years of war, extreme poverty and a recent cholera outbreak. Vital infrastructure like hospitals, schools, utilities and water and sanitation systems have been damaged or reduced to rubble. The economy is in tatters, with more than 90 per cent of the population living in poverty.
“We haven’t seen an earthquake of this magnitude for a long time, and it’s already having a catastrophic impact on vulnerable families,” said Sally Thomas, Caritas Australia’s Humanitarian Emergencies lead for the Middle East.
“People already had limited access to water and food. Millions of people have been displaced inside Syria. Some of them have lost everything already – and now they have few options left. We must do all we can to support.”
Caritas Turkey and other Caritas agencies on the ground are coordinating with local authorities and other organisations to see how they can best assist.
Visit caritas.org.au/donate/emergency-appeals/turkey-and-syria-earthquake/ or call 1800 024 413 toll free to donate to the Middle East Emergency Appeal.Jump to next article