Turkey-Syria: Latest earthquake creates devastation and panic as humanitarian needs soar, warns the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)

Late last night, [20 February] a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck near Antakya, Turkey, affecting areas already devastated by earthquakes two weeks ago. The earthquake was felt strongly across Hatay province and areas of north-west Syria, with media reporting more buildings collapsing in both countries and people running into the streets in panic. Coastal communities are being advised to seek refuge inland as sea levels rise, as a result of the shock.  

DEC member charities, already working around the clock in the region to support the millions affected, have expressed their concern for vulnerable families impacted by the earthquakes. The earthquake is likely to cause further damage and loss of life in a region already facing considerable trauma. 

Dan Stewart, from Save the Children UK, speaking from Hatay said: 

“There are heart-breaking reports of yet more collapsed buildings and power outages, in a region where over 46,000 lives have already been lost and buildings destroyed. Children have been injured, lost loved ones and many were already showing signs of acute distress. Hundreds of thousands of people have once again fled onto the streets in the bitter cold. Families who have already lost everything have just experienced another devastating blow. 

“For children caught up in this new earthquake it must be like reliving a nightmare - a never ending nightmare. The international community must urgently step up support to help communities, local authorities and aid agencies respond without any delay to any prevent any further loss of life, injuries and trauma." 

Dr Wassel Aljerk, programme manager for DEC member charity Age International’s local partner SEMA, currently in Dana city in Harem district, near the Bab Alhawa border said: “Many buildings have collapsed in Atareb, Salqin, Jindires and we are hearing of lots of injuries as people are jumping out of apartments in high-rise buildings as they are worried they would not be able to escape in time to save their lives. 

“We have had to evacuate our cholera hospital in Idlib because of risk of collapse due to lots of cracks in the buildings caused by the last earthquake. Thankfully, there is only one patient and we have evacuated them and SEMA staff to our cholera centre in Atma. I am now checking the status of all our other health facilities in Syria and meanwhile I must evacuate my family again.” 

Hisham Dirani, CEO at Violet, ActionAid’s local partner in northwest Syria said: 

"In the aftermath of the earthquake we worked overnight yesterday to put up tents as we are expecting shelters will be overcrowded, as new people evacuated their homes to the streets and shelters as they are deemed safer." 

Racha Nasreddine, Regional Director of ActionAid Arab Region said:  

“We are deeply saddened to hear that the very same communities on the frontline of this month’s devastating earthquake are once again facing catastrophe. These are people whose lives were already ripped apart by the first earthquake and who will now once again be out on the streets without shelter. Women and girls, all too often the most affected by the earthquake, will once again bear the brunt of this fresh disaster.”  

“Our colleagues on the ground are accounted for and are continuing to respond to the crisis. We are now rapidly assessing the situation to determine how to scale up our response.”  

Donations to the DEC Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal have now reached over £95 million, since the appeal was launched on Thursday 9 February. The total includes £5 million matched by the UK Government through the UK Aid Match scheme.  

Stay up to date with developments in Turkey and Syria, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts with the DEC on Twitter or on Facebook.   


Notes to editors: 

Media enquiries please call 020 7387 0200 or 07734 653616 (out of hours).    

Spokespeople from the affected areas are available for media interview. 

A collection of images and video footage of the aftermath of the earthquake, including the recent earthquakes in Hatay, and DEC charities responding is available here.     
About the DEC: The DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities at times of crisis overseas to raise funds quickly and efficiently. In these times of crisis, people in life-and-death situations need our help and our mission is to save, protect and rebuild lives through effective humanitarian response. The DEC’s 15 member charities are: Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.        
Fourteen of the DEC’s 15 members are either responding or planning to respond in Turkey and Syria and will receive funds from this appeal. Some may work through trusted local partners. They are Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.       
Through UK Aid Match the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) gives the British public the opportunity to have a say in how the UK aid budget is spent whilst boosting the impact of the very best British charities to change and save the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.      
UK Aid Match has increased the impact of a number of DEC appeals to help those in need around the world, including most recently Pakistan Floods Appeal and Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, both in 2022.  The UK matched up to £25 million of public donations to DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal - the largest commitment ever made to a DEC appeal through UK Aid Match.     
Enquiries about UK Aid Match and UK Government support for Turkey/Syria should be directed to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Newsdesk. Please email newsdesk@fcdo.gov.uk 
How to donate:         

Online: dec.org.uk       

Phone: 0370 60 60 610      

Text to give/SMS: for press releases: text SUPPORT to 70787 to donate £10. Other partners should use the specific text codes they have been provided with by the DEC.      

Donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque by post to: DEC Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA.