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Generosity of Irish public allows Concern to expand operations in Turkey (Türkiye) and Syria

Press release16 February 2023
Concern staff delivering food to people in tents
Concern staff in Şanlıurfa, Türkiye (Turkey) have been cooking hundreds of hot meals each day since the February 6th earthquakes and delivering them to people living in tents. Photo: Kieran McConville/Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide is expanding its operations in Turkey (Türkiye) and Syria as the focus in the aftermath of the February 6th earthquakes moves to supporting survivors facing freezing conditions.

“The response to our emergency appeal in Ireland again illustrates the generosity of the Irish public and businesses. Thanks to this support Concern can provide relief to more people affected by this devastating and life altering earthquake,” said David Regan, CEO with Concern, who is currently in Turkey with the Concern team. “The money raised is being used now to provide essential aid to those impacted by the earthquakes.”

“Recovery and rebuilding will take many years.  Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes in Turkey and Syria. Survivors are traumatised and fearful of returning to damaged buildings as a result of the trauma they’ve suffered.”

The Irish humanitarian organisation is extending its response to eight of the 10 worst affected areas in Turkey, to reach 25,000 households (150,000 people) – similar to the population of county Waterford - in this phase of the response.

Working in collaboration with international and local humanitarian organisations, Concern is supplying shelter, providing food, mattresses, blankets, cooking utensils, and heaters, building toilets and clean water supplies, and providing hygiene products.

Concern is also providing essential psychosocial support to adults and children left traumatised by the earthquakes. The Turkish Disaster Management agency have reported at least 1,600 plus aftershocks, hampering rescue efforts and causing many of those affected to relive the trauma.

In north-west Syria its partner on the ground has begun work with Concern’s support, assisting 1,200 households (7,200 people) in Idlib and Aleppo with food, blankets, mattresses, cooking utensils, heaters, hygiene kits that include soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, female sanitary supplies, delivery of clean water, and installation of emergency toilets, along with waste management.

Concern CEO speaking with Concern staff member at Turkish Syrian border
Concern Worldwide CEO, David Regan at Akçakale on the border between Turkey and Syria with Concern staff member, Lamyaa Abod. Photo: Kieran McConville/Concern Worldwide

“The needs in north-west Syria are huge, and we’re still only getting an idea of the scale of the destruction. There was already a humanitarian disaster in the region prior to the earthquakes, with almost 90% of the population relying on humanitarian aid. This earthquake adds unthinkable additional suffering to people already extremely vulnerable”, said Mr Regan, who visited the Turkish/Syrian border today (Thursday 16th Feb).

“The opening of two additional border crossings from Turkey into Syria is welcomed, bringing the total number to three which is essential in getting aid to where it’s needed most.”

The first shipment of one of Ireland’s largest ever deployment of emergency stocks, organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs, will arrive into Turkey today from Dubai. It includes blankets, tents, solar lamps, hygiene kits, kitchen sets and emergency shelter kits. Concern, along with GOAL and local partners, will be distributing these supplies to those who need it most over the weekend.

Concern has been working for the last ten years in many of the areas where the earthquakes struck, largely with Syrian refugee and host communities. Immediately after the earthquakes, it distributed blankets, heaters and mattresses to emergency shelters, along with water and hot food, and construction of temporary shelters.

The weather is unseasonably cold at the moment with temperatures at night getting as low as -6 degrees Celsius, reaching -12 in some areas.

“We lost 10 people in my family because of this earthquake, including my mother’s sister and her brother’s family. One of them was a 2-month-old little baby. Everybody has been staying on the street. We are afraid another earthquake will come and more people will die. My family are on the street, my mother and my father,” said Burak*, a young man in Adiyaman in Turkey who managed to free himself from the wreckage of their collapsed 8 storey building and rescue both of his parents and his sister.

He is planning to return to work as a mariner, but says that it will take time for him to earn the money to rent a new home.

“We are finding wood to burn to stay warm. People have sent clothes and food and we are very grateful. To people in other countries, I would say please send us help. The situation is so bad.”

*name changed to protect his identity

For more information, contact Eilis Staunton, media relations officer with Concern on 085-872 0720 or

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