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FPH statement on earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

Millions of people are at risk after devastating earthquakes and dozens of aftershocks hit South-East Turkey and Syria on 06 February 2023. Current official estimates are of 18,991 deaths and 75,523 injured in Turkey, and 3,384 deaths and 5,245 injuries in Syria.

These figures are likely to rise significantly as recovery operations continue. Thousands of homes have been destroyed, displacing families and their livelihoods at a time of year when temperatures regularly drop below freezing. 

While the search and rescue operations are still ongoing, infrastructure damage in both countries has been extensive, with many medical facilities destroyed or damaged. The immediate impact of the disaster has been substantial and devastating, and the long-term ramifications are likely to be equally significant, particularly for refugees and the most vulnerable populations in the region. 

Victims in Syria continue to face one of the most complex humanitarian situations in the world, after 12 years of grinding conflict, mass displacement and public infrastructure destruction. Humanitarian access in the North West of the country has been challenging for some time, and unless solutions are rapidly found, this will exacerbate the immediate effects of the earthquake.

The risk of communicable disease outbreaks - always significant in crisis-affected settings - is high in Syria, where a nationwide cholera outbreak is already ongoing. The priority now is to work around the clock to save as many lives as possible, with many people still trapped under the rubble. The Faculty will work with global partners to provide and support further assistance to meet the needs of the Turkish and Syrian people at this terrible time.

FPH President Professor Kevin Fenton said “We are saddened by the devastating impacts of the earthquakes that have hit Turkey and Syria this week. Our hearts and thoughts are with the people of these nations, and the families and communities affected across the globe, especially those who have lost loved ones.

Many of our members are providing expertise to support the response to this disaster, and the Faculty will continue to work with our domestic and international partners to strengthen the public health response.

Considering the extent of the loss of life and damage in the region, it is imperative that the international community comes together to provide adequate assistance to meet the needs of the Turkish and Syrian people during these testing and sad times.”

The Syria Research Group recommends donating to this list of organisations operating in the region. Additionally, UK charities have launched an urgent Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal.

Published 10 February 2023

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