Earthquake Response for Türkiye and Syria
Updated: Feb 23
Situation Update The recent series of earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye and Northern Syria are unprecedented in recent memory. This impacted a region that witnessed millions of people forcibly displaced by a dozen years of war and a bitter winter season. The disaster has affected 24 million people, displaced at least 1.4 million people, injured more than 80,000 people, and left at least 25,000 people dead.
An estimated total of 12,140 buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged in Türkiye, and most areas of Hatay, Gaziantep, and Kahramanmaras the Turkish cities among others, were left flat with all buildings collapsed. Rescue teams and survivors continue to search for people buried beneath the rubble.
A state of emergency has been declared for the next three months in Southern Türkiye. These areas include Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Adana, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa, Malatya, and Kilis. Northwest Syria, particularly the northwest province of Aleppo, was also severely affected. Major roads as well were either blocked or impassable which has interfered with the humanitarian support reaching this region. This points to the need to localize aid as much as possible. Thankfully, Field Ready’s team and former staff survived physically unharmed and quickly got to action. Rapid Assessment During the past week, Field Ready staff have checked on other affected people, met with partners – government authorities, other relief organizations and commercial groups – and are mapping the needs and response capabilities of affected communities in Syria and Türkiye. Our team is finding overwhelming needs but also know that there is tremendous capacity, talent, and local resources if only the right approach is taken. The Field Ready Program Lead for Türkiye and Syria, Emad Nasher said: “The situation in Northwestern Syria needs urgent attention because over 1.8 million Syrians that were affected by the earthquake were already living in dire conditions in settlement camps from a decade of internal conflicts.”
The sudden onset of the disaster has left the most basic needs lacking such as blankets, heaters, and other basics (non-food items). With so much destruction, the health system is stretched beyond capacity and will need replacements, fixes, and resupply – these are actions that Field Ready specializes in. For this reason, Field Ready local teams are exploring both live-saving actions and, at the same time, innovative and sustainable solutions to empower the affected local communities.
Immediately, Field Ready helped those around them emerge from the disaster and rendered aid. These personal stories will be shared on other platforms. Roughly 90 people were helped with transportation to evacuate from destroyed areas to safer shelters. Program activities soon followed this week, including:
NFI distributions starting with blankets
Restarting making of lifting airbag rescue technology (see below)
Initiation of insulation tents using recycled plastic for children engaged in psychosocial support (e.g., play and other normalizing activities)
These were done in Gaziantep in Türkiye, and in Idlib, Janderis, and Azaz in Syria. Emad Nasher added, “Field Ready has provided immediate relief to them like the non-food items, blankets, providing temporary shelters with insulation from the cold temperatures among others.”
Background in Relief
For the past seven years, Field Ready has implemented a range of relief and reconstruction projects in the earthquake-affected area. Over the years, Field Ready has been supported – thankfully – by numerous donors working to address a variety of issues in shelter, health and search/rescue.
Field Ready’s work in Northwest Syria included the groundbreaking achievement of making rescue technology locally. These “rescue airbags” made from locally recovered and recycled materials that can raise heavy debris and help save anyone trapped beneath a collapsed structure. Field Ready team members were part of the team that rescued some people who were trapped under a building in Sarmada in Northwest Syria with use of the rescue airbags. Dozens of lives have been saved with this innovative rescue technology.
The lack of insulation in freezing temperatures and the inability of the people to heat up their own houses which are mostly makeshift shelters and tents. Field Ready improved this situation by developing innovative products like insulation panels and floor insulation tiles that protect people from the winter cold and relieve them from the summer heat by insulating these shelters with thermal insulation materials made from plastic waste.
Our more recent work focused on medical relief items and was funded as part of the USAID-supported Humanitarian Grand Challenge. This involved the provision of essential health items that are not available in local markets and significantly improves the quality of health care. Examples of repaired medical equipment to date include air compressors, anesthesia machines, defibrillators, ventilators, ICU pumps, centrifuges, nebulizers, sterilizers, ultrasound machines, ECGs, monitors, CT scanners, and other critically needed devices. Field Ready’s innovative solution improved the operation capacity of the medical equipment, strengthened the quality of the healthcare system, and saved thousands of lives in Türkiye and Syria.
Photos of previous work: Locally made lifting airbags raising tons of rubble (above) and placement of insulation made locally with recycled plastic (below).