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Muhammed, Field Project Officer, with Concern's in-country partner Syria Relief. Photo: Ali Haj Suleiman/DEC/FairpictureMuhammed, Field Project Officer, with Concern's in-country partner Syria Relief. Photo: Ali Haj Suleiman/DEC/FairpictureMuhammed, Field Project Officer, with Concern's in-country partner Syria Relief. Photo: Ali Haj Suleiman/DEC/Fairpicture

Syria earthquakes one year on: "We will provide assistance until people can stand on their feet again"

Syria earthquakes one year on: "We will provide assistance until people can stand on their feet again"
Story6 February 2024

On 6th February 2023, earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria causing massive destruction and loss of life. Concern launched its response the next day and over the last year, we have reached over 350,000 people with food, water, shelter, essential items, cash to buy what is most needed and psychosocial support.

In Syria we responded through partners on the ground.

Concern’s in-country partner, Syria Relief, has been providing humanitarian assistance in the form of cash vouchers, so that individuals can buy what they need most. Muhammed is a Field Project Officer with Syria Relief and told us how he has been impacted by the earthquake himself as well as how he is supporting affected communities.

“My job requires me to visit the camps that were established for those affected by the earthquake. I walk along the muddy roads connecting the worn-out tents in which people who lost their homes and possessions within a few seconds of the disaster resided.”

Muhammed has four children with his wife and told us how he lost everything he worked hard to build for himself, his children, and his close relatives, but that despite this tragedy, he feels he is one of the lucky ones.

Muhammed conducts field tours to see the conditions of those affected by the earthquake and their needs. “I know exactly what those affected by the earthquake are suffering, as I was also one of those affected.” Photo: Ali Haj Suleiman/DEC/Fairpicture
Muhammed conducts field tours to see the conditions of those affected by the earthquake and their needs. “I know exactly what those affected by the earthquake are suffering, as I was also one of those affected.” Photo: Ali Haj Suleiman/DEC/Fairpicture

“When the earthquake happened, the building started swaying violently. At first I didn't know what was going on, then I knew this was an earthquake. I woke up my wife and children to get out of the building, we left the apartment and were on the stairs when the building started to collapse. Stones started falling on our heads, the electricity went out, and we could no longer see anything. If I wanted to describe the situation it felt like the Day of Judgment.”

Muhammed - Field Project Officer

As Muhammed was going down the stairs with his 10-year-old daughter, she suddenly let go of his hand. He left the building with his wife and other three children and went straight back in to find her as the building was still shaking. There he saw some of her hair under a collapsed wall. Neighbours helped him remove the stone block and his daughter took a breath as he lifted her out.

“I took her to the hospital and there they told me that she needed to be transferred to Türkiye, because she suffered from skull fractures. We then went to the crossing but they did not let us in because the earthquake affected Türkiye too and things were out of control. So, I took her to a private hospital, she had four skull fractures, but she did not suffer a concussion, I stayed with her for six days in the hospital and then brought her back.”

While Muhammed was in the hospital with his daughter he was told that his brother, sister-in-law and their children had died in the same building they all lived all together.

Muhammed visiting those affected by the earthquake” Photo: Ali Haj Suleiman/DEC/Fairpicture
Muhammed visiting those affected by the earthquake” Photo: Ali Haj Suleiman/DEC/Fairpicture

“I was in the section of the building that did not collapse while my brother was in the section that collapsed and I later found out that they died there. So my experience with the earthquake is not limited to aid delivery, I actually lived and suffered from what happened and I was one of those affected.

"My house, that I lost, I spent five years preparing it to live in as I thought for the rest of my life, suddenly there was nothing left and I was without a home. I currently live in a rented house.”

"I was one of the lucky ones, there are people who lost their entire family and their income and they were forced to live in camps with harsh living conditions.

"During the past months, I did everything I could to provide aid and assistance to the people most affected by the earthquake.

"This was possible with the help we received from partner donor organisations, such as DEC, which was distinguished by its rapid response and non-discrimination between people in need."

We are still working and the needs, they are still huge, but I am optimistic that the future is better because we will not stop providing assistance until people can stand on their feet again.

Muhammed - Field Project Officer
Jamna feeding her daughter Shanti

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