Following the earthquake that struck eastern Turkey last Sunday, killing at least 500 people and injuring 2,500, MSF has sent a team to Van and Ercis, the most affected areas. After a first phase of assessment in order to identify the major needs and gaps, MSF will now focus, in collaboration with Turkish non-governmental organisations (NGOs), on providing relief goods in rural areas, where assistance has been more difficult to be deployed.
“The main hospitals have not been affected by the earthquake. The health system was strong and is responding adequately to the medical needs. In Van and Ercis, the two main cities, the response by the Turkish authorities has been globally good,” explains Jerome Souquet, MSF emergency programme manager. “However, the MSF team has identified a number of villages outside the main cities where people are living in very harsh conditions with temperatures below zero at night. Some have lost their homes and others are afraid of aftershocks and do not want to go back to their houses. Some people are sleeping in cars, in very precarious conditions, and need assistance.”
In collaboration with Turkish NGOs, MSF will distribute winterised tents, blankets and cooking sets to some 10,000 people. Two cargo planes with 140 tonnes of relief material are being sent from Dubai, where MSF has a logistical base. At the same time, the team on the ground is being reinforced in order to prepare the distribution.
As the water system in these villages has been damaged by the earthquake, MSF is exploring temporary solutions to resume the water supply. The team is also discussing with local organisations of psychologists in order to start providing mental health assistance to the affected population, an important need in the aftermath of an earthquake.