One Month After the Earthquake, Northwest Syria Is in Dire Need

March 06, 2023

One month since the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Northwest Syria caused significant loss of life, widespread infrastructure damage, displacement, and psychological trauma, the gap between the needs and the humanitarian response in Northwest Syria is severe. The slow international donor response for Northwest Syria continues to limit the ability of aid organizations to meet the scale of needs, which have skyrocketed in a region of the country where 4 million people were already in dire need of assistance after a decade of conflict.  

Food insecurity is deteriorating; in half of the camps and communities in Northwest Syria where Mercy Corps is providing assistance, people are reporting they cannot afford food due to limited cash and increasing food prices. There is limited availability of infant formula and clean water, and the lack of access to clean water from damaged water networks, storage tanks, and latrines is forcing people to resort to poor hygiene practices or drinking unclean water. More than 50,000 cholera cases have been reported in northwest Syria as of March 1.

Since the earthquake struck, Mercy Corps’ team in Northwest Syria has provided emergency supplies including hygiene kits, shelter supplies and other urgently needed items. Mercy Corps teams are also inspecting damage to boreholes that supply clean water, as well as conducting assessments on water quality across the displacement camps and communities where we work. Prior to the earthquake, 135,000 people in Northwest Syria relied solely on Mercy Corps for access to clean water and we have resumed clean water trucking to continue providing water access.

On February 14, the United Nations issued a flash appeal for $397 million to cover emergency needs stemming from the earthquake in Syria for three months. So far, 43% of that appeal is funded with only two months remaining and the world’s gaze quickly turning away. 

Nicole Hark, Mercy Corps Deputy Country Director for Syria, says:

“In the first month since the earthquake, international funding and supplies have been slow to materialize and people remain in desperate need of food, water, shelter, and basic healthcare as a result. The challenges of delivering aid in a complex area affected by ongoing conflict are real, but donors must send funding to where it’s needed most, not where it is easiest because of politics. Organizations like Mercy Corps have worked effectively in Northwest Syria for a decade, and we have robust mechanisms in place to ensure aid gets to those who need it.”

Mercy Corps has been working in Syria since 2008, delivering emergency assistance and addressing longer-term needs both before and during the current crisis. In the Northwest, we have provided essential support including water, food, shelter, sanitation services, and livelihoods assistance to Syrians displaced multiple times throughout the course of the conflict.