Türkiye-Syria earthquakes: WFP reaches communities with life-saving assistance amid apocalyptic devastation
“There is only one way to describe what I saw: apocalyptic. Entire neighborhoods have been flattened; homes destroyed, schools and shops closed; lives torn apart. The scale of devastation here is truly incomprehensible,” said World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley after visiting the earthquake affected region of Hatay in southern Türkiye on 25 February.
Following the deadly earthquakes that struck along the border between Türkiye and Syria on 6 February, affecting 18 million people in the two countries, killing tens of thousands and leaving millions homeless, WFP has reached more than two million people with urgently needed food assistance.
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.
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“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, appealing for continued support.
Within 24 hours, WFP was assisting affected people in both countries with ready-to-eat food rations, family food packages, and hot meals. The food being distributed required no cooking and provided immediate relief for families whose precarious position is made worse by freezing temperatures.
“That's WFP,” Beasley added. “Lives matter. We care. We're there.”
Since the reopening of the Turkish border on 13 February, WFP has supported the crossing of 180 trucks into non-government-controlled areas in northwest Syria.
“We welcome the opening of the two additional border crossing points from Türkiye," Beasley said. "At the same time, we need to resume and scale up cross-line deliveries and I call on all parties to facilitate access.Food assistance must get to the people of northwest Syria from all sides, through all routes – without any restrictions."
Even before disaster hit, some 4.1 million people in northwest Syria – more than 90 percent of the population – depended on humanitarian aid. Twelve years of conflict have displaced almost 3 million people from their homes in northwest Syria and left them living in precarious conditions.
“A region plagued by years of compounding crises faces yet another one, with unimaginable loss and destruction. Immediate relief cannot be delayed,” said WFP Regional Director in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe Corinne Fleischer. “WFP’s strong footprint in both countries enabled us to immediately mobilize our staff, logistics capacity and partners to respond to people’s most immediate food needs.”
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.
WFP mourns all the lives lost in this tragedy, including one of its own staff members.