Earthquake: Türkiye and north-west Syria, Flash Update No. 2

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Situation Overview

At least 317 aftershocks have been reported since an earthquake of 7.7 magnitude struck southern Türkiye on 6 February. Since then, more than 6,000 deaths have been reported in both Türkiye and north-west Syria.

The situation remains grave where hundreds of people are reportedly trapped under the rubble in cold winter conditions. Today, 4.6 million people live in the north-west of Syria of whom close to 90 per cent (4.1 million people) rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their most basic needs. The UN cross-border response, authorized by the Security Council, has served as their humanitarian lifeline. Last year, trucks loaded with aid crossing from Türkiye to north-west Syria reached on average 2.6 million Syrians each month through this operation.

Bab Al-Hawa at the Türkiye-Syria border is the single remaining border-crossing authorized by the Security Council for UN aid delivery. Local sources report that the road conditions to the border-crossing are impaired and therefore the cross-border response is temporarily disrupted . In particular, the road connecting Gaziantep to Hatay, the most affected district in Türkiye by number of deaths, is reportedly not accessible. Hatay is also home to UN Transshipment Hub where aid is monitored, verified, and loaded into trucks as part of a UN monitoring process before crossing to Syria. The UN and partners are currently exploring other routes and conducting feasibility assessments.

The first two days of the emergency have added enormous pressures to an already overstretched response in north-west Syria, compounded by snowy weather and electricity cut in many areas. The Syria Cross-border Humanitarian Fund (SCHF), which allocated $138 million in 2022, is currently depleted and requires donors to further support 2023 activities with a focus on the earthquake response. On 7 February, a $25 million grant was released by United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help “kick-start” the earthquake response.

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Collapsed building under rain in Sarmada, north-west Syria, following the 6 February earthquake near the Türkiye-Syria border. Credit: OCHA/Bilal Al-hammoud