Turkey-Syria earthquake response in Aleppo and Latakia

After providing aid in the first phase of the emergency, AVSI continues working in Aleppo to provide care, psycho-social support and essential items to all the people affected by the Turkey-Syria earthquake

Countries Syria
Date 12.02.2024

Turkey-Syria earthquake – more than 50,000 casualties, thousands are injured and displaced “Worst natural disaster in 100 years in this region”

During the night between February 5 and 6, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey and Syria. Its epicenter was located near Gaziantep, a city in South-Eastern Turkey – about 50 kilometers away from the Syrian border. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths called the devastating earthquake that struck South-Eastern Turkey and North-Western Syria “the worst natural disaster in 100 years in this region” (Ansa).

Terremoto Tuchia Siria mappa
Terremoto Tuchia Siria mappa

AVSI in Aleppo and Latakia: what we have already done

Since 2015 AVSI has been steadily working in Syria, with an extensive network of partners and projects to support the Syrian people, worn out by 12 years of war. Our staff, within mere hours since the earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, was on the ground and has been promptly responding to the emergency, but the situation is and will remain dramatic for a long time.

Immediate care to the injured thanks to the "Syria Open Hospitals" project

On Monday, February 6, AVSI was able to provide immediate relief to the wounded through the St. Louis Hospital in Aleppo and a dispensary in Latakia. Both facilities are part of the project "Syria. Open Hospitals", active since 2017. This over five-year long collaboration has allowed us to be immediately ready to respond to the emergency.

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Emergency response

In addition to providing free medical assistance, AVSI supported emergency shelters, particularly in one set up at the Hisham Bin Abdul Malik School, which provided refuge to 564 people since the night of the earthquake.
Since February 6, 2023, support to the population has been continuous, and one year after the earthquake:

  • 5,976 individuals have received food items and baby formula milk;
  • 2,237 individuals have received multipurpose cash assistance to rent houses, buy food, essential goods, tools, and materials for small home renovation projects, as well as furniture;
  • 2,376 individuals have received essential non-food items: hygiene kits, dignity kits, clothes, blankets;
  • 2,160 individuals have been involved in psycho-social activities;
  • 537 individuals have received free medical treatment;
  • 30 buildings (houses, educational centers, etc.) have been rehabilitated.

One year after the earthquake, AVSI has helped more than 13,300 people in Aleppo.

AVSI in Syria: the health crisis and the Open Hospitals campaign

In 2017, AVSI launched the Open Hospitals campaign, promoted by the Apostolic Nunciature in Damascus and supported by the Dicastery for Promting Integral Human Development to ensure free health care to poor patients in three Syrian nonprofit hospitals and, later on, 4 dispensaries. Over the years, this campaign has been supported by thousands of donors (individuals, companies, foundations, institutions), and especially by the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) both through the 8x1000 (funds donated by Italian taxpayers) and direct contributions.

The Open Hospitals project has become necessary in view of the unparalleled health crisis the country has been going through: nearly 11.5 million people, 40% of them children, do not receive adequate medical care; more than 2 million people in the Aleppo district and more than 1 million in Damascus don't have access to hospitals. The national health care system cannot cope with the demand for treatment, and families are unable to pay health care fees.

"Syria. Open Hospitals" has consolidated our presence in the country over the years and it has now allowed us to take immediate action, assisting the many injured and displaced people in Aleppo.

As a matter of fact, the Saint Louis Hospital in Aleppo is one of the hospitals AVSI supports through the project, and to date it has provided 100,000 free treatments to poor Syrians.

In Syria AVSI also works in the fieldIn Syria, AVSI also works in the fields of education and economic strengthening, with a special focus on women.