Marking One Year Since the Devastating Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria

United States Agency for International Development USAID
Office of Press Relations
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
Press Release

One year ago, two deadly earthquakes, the worst to hit the region in nearly a century, struck within hours of one another, impacting populations in Türkiye and Syria. Initially, a deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern central Türkiye and northern Syria, followed by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake 59 miles to the southwest, resulting in the tragic loss of nearly 60,000 lives and a catastrophic humanitarian crisis across the two countries. The earthquakes and numerous aftershocks affected approximately 14 million people in Türkiye and Syria, destroyed homes and infrastructure, disrupted livelihoods, and left people living in makeshift shelters during the coldest time of the year. In Syria alone, the earthquakes displaced more than 500,000 people and compounded already severe humanitarian needs resulting from 12 years of conflict. Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and those whose lives continue to be impacted to this day.

Immediately after the earthquakes struck, USAID mobilized a significant humanitarian response and rapidly deployed an elite Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) – comprising disaster experts and highly-skilled Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) professionals – to several locations in Türkiye to search for survivors. The DART coordinated response efforts with the Government of Türkiye and humanitarian organizations in both Türkiye and Syria, many of whom suffered staggering personal losses among their own staff. The DART comprised more than 200 staff at its peak, including 164 USAR professionals as well as 12 search and rescue canines, making this one of USAID’s largest disaster deployments in recent history.

DART

The DART also worked closely with existing humanitarian partners already operating inside Syria to provide aid to earthquake-affected communities concurrently grappling with brutal losses from the ongoing war, which has killed more than 300,000 people.


The DART also worked closely with existing humanitarian partners already operating inside Syria to provide aid to earthquake-affected communities concurrently grappling with brutal losses from the ongoing war, which has killed more than 300,000 people.
Since the earthquakes, the U.S. government has provided more than $315 million in humanitarian assistance to support partners delivering emergency food, health, shelter, water, sanitation, and other life-saving assistance in Türkiye and Syria. USAID provided more than $242 million and the Department of State provided $77 million for both countries. With USAID support, the UN World Food Program reached 2.7 million people with hot meals and food rations, as well as multipurpose cash assistance and livelihoods support, to help people meet immediate needs across affected areas of Türkiye and Syria. In Syria, U.S. government partners from UN and non-government organizations reached hundreds of thousands of people with critical medical supplies and mental health and psychosocial support services.

USAID also supported airlifts of essential supplies, including nearly 1.8 million pounds of USAID relief supplies distributed by our partner the International Organization for Migration in Türkiye and nearly 600,000 pounds of relief supplies transported by the U.S. Department of Defense to displaced people in some of the most acutely affected areas of both Türkiye and Syria. With the State Department’s assistance, the UN High Commission for Refugees supported the Government of Türkiye and local authorities by providing over 2.9 million relief items and shelter materials in Türkiye to refugee and other displaced populations.

The historic scale and magnitude of the devastation in Türkiye and Syria has left a lasting impact on the people of both countries and the region. While a year has passed since the earthquakes, the humanitarian needs of people affected by these disasters persist. The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Türkiye and Syria as they continue to recover from multiple challenges.

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