A series of powerful earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria on February 6, killing tens of thousands of people and injuring many more.
Search-and-recovery efforts have been hampered by severely damaged infrastructure throughout both countries, as well as sub-freezing temperatures that are making an already difficult situation for those left injured or homeless even worse.
International Medical Corps responded immediately to the quakes. In Syria, we are coordinating with local health authorities to address critical gaps in services and enable functional healthcare facilities to rapidly scale up their care for communities, dispatching medical supplies, consumables, pharmaceuticals and non-food items to support healthcare facilities and people. In Türkiye, International Medical Corps has deployed three emergency-response team members to conduct rapid needs assessments and is coordinating with local partners to address immediate needs related to non-food and food items.
Throughout the region, we are expanding our health, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), protection (including child protection and gender-based violence support), non-food item distribution, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to address immediate needs of the women, children and men affected by this disaster.
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Our Response: Providing Relief in Syria
International Medical Corps has been providing services in Syria since 2008. As a lead health actor, our teams have worked across different governorates providing health, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and treatment services.
Hours after the earthquake, International Medical Corps deployed emergency response teams to Aleppo and Lattakia, two of the most affected areas, where some of the worst structural damage has been recorded.
Humanitarian Supplies and Equipment
The emergency response team—in coordination with local health authorities—identified essential medications, consumables and supplies needed to support healthcare providers, and rapidly scaled up activities to meet increased needs in these areas. International Medical Corps rapidly provided tons of medications, medical supplies—including antibiotics, asthma medications and trauma-related supplies, such as bandages and gauze—and cholera kits to primary healthcare centres and public health facilities in Aleppo, Hama and Lattakia governorates, as well as intravenous (IV) fluids to healthcare facilities in Aleppo, where trauma incidence was particularly high.
International Medical Corps is working with the Directorate of Health to provide critically needed non-food items and supplies to affected residents. Given the harsh weather conditions, International Medical Corps also is providing blankets, hand sanitisers, sanitary pads and clean water to affected civilians and public hospitals.
Mobile Medical Units
International Medical Corps has deployed mobile medical units (MMUs) to Aleppo, Hama and Latakia to address urgent needs. These MMUs employ a comprehensive and integrated approach—in addition to primary healthcare services, MHPSS case managers are embedded with each team. We are reaching thousands of displaced people living in shelters and camps because of the earthquake with health services that include triage; stabilisation and referral of complicated cases; management of minor trauma cases, communicable and non-communicable diseases; and basic obstetric care, along with clinical care for children.
The MMUs also are equipped with a mobile pharmacy providing free medication, along with a qualified pharmacist to dispense medication. In addition, each MMU has a health educator who works to raise awareness on health, mental health, preventive health and hygiene-related themes.
Along with the need for mobile health services, International Medical Corps also is working with local health authorities to assess the need for establishing longer-term static primary healthcare clinics in the affected governorates.
International Medical Corps is deploying members of our MHPSS team to provide emergency psychosocial support in the most affected areas, including Aleppo, Hama and Lattakia. These staff members will also organise and facilitate psychological first-aid training to support frontline healthcare workers and case managers working with patients affected by the quakes.
Our Response: Providing Relief in Türkiye
In Türkiye, where International Medical Corps operated from 2012 until 2018, we have deployed three emergency response team members to conduct rapid needs assessments and meet with partners in Ankara. International Medical Corps previously worked extensively in the southern region of the country, including in Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Mersin and Sanliurfa. Given the vast immediate needs—particularly those related to food and non-food items—International Medical Corps is working with a local partner to rapidly procure and distribute winter clothing, hygiene items, blankets, stoves, potable toilets and food to affected communities.
As recovery operations continue and the extent of damage and need continues to be assessed, International Medical Corps is working closely with public authorities and other intergovernmental organisations to ensure that our relief efforts are complementary.