Last February, devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria killed more than 55,000 people, injured more than twice as many more, and impacted the lives of millions of others, many of whom were already facing interlinked challenges related to conflict, displacement, and disease. The earthquakes displaced 3 million people, and the area they struck was home to nearly five million people who had already been displaced from their homes, nearly two million in Turkey and three million in Syria.
To help reach those in need, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) made grants to four organizations with which we had partnered in the past: Save the Children UK, Choose Love, Médicos del Mundo, and Doctors Without Borders.
Save the Children UK worked quickly to ensure that children and families in Turkey had access to food, water tanks, tents, blankets, hygiene kits, mental health support, kid-friendly spaces, and a summer school program to help mitigate the disruption to students’ education. The organization reached many tens of thousands of children as well as their families.
Watch a “A day in the life of Arif,” a Save the Children Child Protection Officer in Turkey working to offer psychosocial support to kids in the wake of the earthquakes.
Choose Love, another partner, works by regranting funds to grassroots organizations to meet real on-the-ground needs and enable neighbors to help neighbors. Following the earthquakes, they partnered with local groups working in their communities in Syria to address critical needs.
One of these groups, the White Helmets, rescued 2,950 people from rubble and helped recover the bodies of those who did not survive. The more than 3,000 White Helmets volunteers involved in the effort also worked to make the area safe again, demolishing 26,000 cubic meters of unstable walls, removing 422,000 cubic meters of rubble, and repairing 289 kilometers of road across 216 communities.
With SNF’s grant support, another Choose Love grantee, Hand in Hand for Aid and Development (HIHFAD), assisted 1,500 families—encompassing some 7,000 people—whose homes were damaged or destroyed. HIHFAD distributed 5,000 blankets, 1,000 mattresses, 132 tents, 150 tarps, and 8,000 ready-to-eat meals.
A third Choose Love grantee, Independent Doctors Association, opened a mobile clinic in the city of Afrin to provide care in disaster-stricken areas and an interventional cardiology center in the city of A’zaz, the only facility of its kind in the area, equipped to provide services such as catheterization and surgery.
The two remaining SNF grants went to partners that were also working to secure access to essential medical care in Syria. Médicos del Mundo operated a mobile medical clinic in Hama, while Doctors Without Borders provided supplies and staff to medical facilities, set up mobile clinics, offered psychological services, and delivered essential goods and sanitation infrastructure in northwest Syria.
A year on, the road to recovery in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria has been painfully slow. As one measure of how far there remains to go, of the 73,000 people UNHCR counted as having been displaced to reception centers in northwest Syria in the wake of the earthquakes, 40,500 remain there. Unemployment for refugees living in parts of southeastern Turkey quadrupled from 10% before the earthquake to 40% today. As they did in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, Save the Children UK, Choose Love, Médicos del Mundo, and Doctors Without Borders continue to provide essential aid to people in the affected regions of Turkey and Syria.