WFP Executive Director shocked by apocalyptic devastation across Turkiye and Syria during visit, calls for global support
HATAY, Türkiye – The Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, has concluded a visit to the earthquake affected region of Hatay in southern Türkiye where he witnessed first-hand the incomprehensible devastation caused by the earthquake that struck on 6 February. With some 18 million people affected across southern Türkiye and northwest Syria, tens of thousands of lives have been lost, and millions upon millions of people have lost their homes, livelihoods and assets.
“There is only one way to describe what I saw today: apocalyptic. Entire neighborhoods have been flattened; homes destroyed, schools and shops closed; lives torn apart. The scale of devastation here is truly incomprehensible,” said Beasley.
The Executive Director visited Antakya, which suffered significant loss of life and massive destruction. The city is now almost a ghost town, with homes, schools, shops and critical infrastructure damaged and destroyed. “While the world has quickly mobilized in support of people here, the impact of this quake will be felt for months and years to come,” said Beasley.
He also visited Boynuyoğun camp to meet with displaced families whose homes were reduced to rubble. Boynuyoğun camp is one of seven camps where WFP has been supporting Syrian refugees for years through an electronic voucher programme, and assistance is now being scaled up to include Turkish families displaced by the earthquake through WFP food packages.
On the Syrian side, Beasley described the situation as a “catastrophe on top of a catastrophe”. The quake follows 12 years of unrelenting conflict, and the areas hardest hit lack the capacity and infrastructure to deal with the impact of a disaster of this magnitude. Beasley visited the UN transshipment hub, where trucks are loaded with lifesaving food and other emergency supplies before proceeding to the Bab al-Hawa border crossing en route to non-government-controlled areas of northwest Syria. Following the recent opening of two additional border crossings, Bab al-Hawa is one of three critical border crossings open between Türkiye and northwest Syria, providing a vital lifeline to millions of people.
Beasley joined a 21-truck convoy carrying 380 tons of wheat flour, bulgur and rice, along with other non-food emergency items. “Our trucks are rolling, and this food and other supplies will literally save thousands and thousands of lives,” said Beasley, as he watched the convoy enter Syria. Since 13 February, since the border crossing re-opened, WFP has supported the crossing of 180 trucks into non-government-controlled areas in northwest Syria.
With the earthquake exacerbating needs and stocks depleting quickly, it is critical that food and other life-saving supplies can enter northwest Syria through all modalities. “Food assistance must get to the people of northwest Syria from all sides, through all routes – without any restrictions. We welcome the opening of the two additional border crossing points from Türkiye. At the same time, we need to resume and scale up cross-line deliveries and I call on all parties to facilitate access,” said Beasley.
WFP has rapidly mobilized, reaching more than 2.3 million quake-affected people across both countries. In Syria, this includes nearly 1 million people in northwest Syria with general food assistance, and 380,000 with hot meals and ready-to-eat rations. In Türkiye, nearly 1 million people have been reached, with 870,000 receiving hot meals in municipal kitchens and some 100,000 receiving family food packages in camps.
WFP’s funding requirement for the emergency response in Türkiye stands at US$80 million to swiftly ramp up assistance for quake-affected people through food and cash. In Syria, WFP needs US$150 million to support 800,000 people affected by the earthquake for six months. In addition, WFP requires US$300 million to maintain its food assistance programme across all of Syria for 5.5 million people every month. If this is not received, WFP will be forced to suspend its assistance to 3.8 million Syrians within months.