Three days after the catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the region between southern Turkey and northern Syria – with epicentre in the Kahramanmaras region – relief operations continue without a break. The death toll continues to rise; there are over 16,000 victims to date and 63,000 injured, with survivors’ conditions made even more challenging by frost, snow and rain. The World Health Organization estimates that some 23 million people in Syria and Turkey have been affected by the earthquake.
The Malteser International relief team has arrived in Gaziantep, on the border between Turkey and Syria, where the Order of Malta’s international organisation has been providing aid since the outbreak of the war in Syria. In this region there are thousands of displaced Syrians and after the devastating earthquake many of them lost what they had reconstructed after fleeing the war.
Malteser International currently supports six general hospitals, a maternity and children’s hospital and eight primary health care units in the Idlib and North Aleppo regions of north-western Syria. Aid projects in the Syrian border region are managed by Turkey. Oliver Hochedez, Malteser International’s Emergency Aid Manager, is in constant contact with partners in north-western Syria dealing with those affected by the earthquake.
“Fortunately, the hospitals we’re supporting in Northwest Syria are only slightly damaged and fully operational, but there’s a shortage of first-aid kits, trauma kits and medicines. The doctors who work in the hospitals we support have been working flat out since Monday morning. Even before the earthquake, healthcare for the population of this region was critical. We’re working at full speed to obtain the necessary supplies. The need for medical assistance is enormous and orthopaedic aids are of particular importance for the many injured,” reports Oliver Hochedez, coordinating the operations.
In addition, two trucks with 10 tons of vital supplies, such as beds, tents, blankets and mattresses for those affected in Turkey, will depart today from Hannover and Speyer in Germany. Other consignments are underway.
Since 2012, Malteser International has been managing several projects for Syrian refugees, as well as health facilities and refugee camps in north-west Syria where the situation is particularly difficult. Most of those affected by the disaster are women and children. Besides the catastrophic earthquake, Syrian communities are also in the middle of a cholera epidemic.
The German Foreign Ministry has allocated one million euros for the Malteser International rescue team. These funds will be used for the Syrian population to obtain vital supplies, such as blankets, mattresses, tents and food.
Malteser International also coordinates the relief operations of the other Order of Malta entities participating in the solidarity machine. The Lebanese Association is organising a mobile clinic and a shipment of humanitarian goods. Ordre de Malte France and the Order of Malta’s emergency service in Hungary are sending a medical team on board a mobile clinic.
Photo-Credit: Malteser International