“Now is the hour to stand up for the people of Türkiye and Syria.”

Across southern and central Turkiye and western Syria a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in the early morning of Monday 6th February. 

Image credit: © WFP The World Food Programme has been distributing hot meals to displaced people in Aleppo, Syria.

It is estimated that 20,000 people may have been killed, many more injured and infrastructure reduced to rubble following the two quakes which took place.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has been awarded £500,000 from the Scottish Government towards aiding the relief of those affected. It will go to providing emergency food, hygiene supplies and blankets. – Turkey Syria Earthquake Appeal

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said:

“There is an urgent need to support the humanitarian efforts being made to help those affected in Türkiye and Syria. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting efforts in the region and members of our emergency services have already been deployed to help the search and rescue operation on the ground.

“We will provide £500,000 in humanitarian aid to the DEC Appeal to support those affected with medical care, shelter, food and clean water. Members of the public can also pledge support and make donations to the DEC Appeal in a variety of ways and I encourage everyone to consider donating to the DEC if they can do so. The people of Türkiye and Syria desperately need our support.”  

Four firefighters from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) have joined a rescue operation which has been deployed to the Republic of Turkiye. The firefighters from SFRS are: Watch Commander (WC) John Aitchison from SFRS Training Centre in Portlethen, Crew Commander (CC) Steven Adams, MacAlpine Road Fire Station, Dundee and firefighters Tony Armstrong and Keith Gauld from Aberdeen’s North Anderson Drive Fire Station. They have joined a 77-strong International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) team.

Bruce Farquharson is Deputy Assistant Chief Officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and UKISAR Team Manager in Scotland. He said:

“The scenes in Turkey and Syria are devastating and our thoughts are firmly with the families, friends and communities who have been affected by these tragic earthquakes.

“Our team will use their specialist skills and a range of technical equipment as they join a wider collective effort in a bid to save lives and they will also be supporting other emergency service teams already in the area.”

 Mary’s Meals has launched an emergency appeal to deliver much-needed food aid to children in Syria.

Daniel Adams, executive director of Mary’s Meals, said:

“The updates we are receiving from our partner on the ground are simply heart-breaking. After more than a decade of civil war, Syria has been plunged into this new crisis. Many people have lost their loved ones and their homes, and they have very little access to food and shelter. They now face yet another a fight for survival. 

“Conditions in and around Aleppo are very difficult – roads are damaged, and our partner organisation has seen heavy damage to its buildings. Despite these challenges, we are already reaching many children with essential food supplies.” 

United Nations aid agencies have been scrambled to help many thousands of reported victims, including those still believed to be buried under the rubble. The initial 7.8 magnitude quake struck close to Gaziantep, followed by another 7.5 magnitude earthquake several hours later. 

Emergency medical teams from the World Health Organization, WHO, are providing essential care for the injured and most vulnerable. The epicentre was in southern Türkiye, where nearby Gaziantep – an important UN aid hub for northern Syria – was among the cities affected.

Humanitarian needs in northern Syria are already huge, as the region is home to millions of people displaced by the country’s long-running war. Snow and rain have hampered the work of rescue teams, whose families are also among those believed to buried under collapsed buildings.

The first UN convoy crossed into northwest Syria on Thursday through the Bab al-Hawa crossing, including six trucks carrying shelter and other desperately needed relief supplies.

Commenting Secretary-General and previously head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, Antonio Guterres said:

“People are facing nightmare on top of nightmare. The earthquake struck as the humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria was already worsening, with needs at their highest level since the conflict began.

“Türkiye is home to the largest number of refugees in the world and has shown unparalleled generosity to its Syrian neighbors. Indeed, up to 3.6 million Syrians have lived in Türkiye for more than a decade. Many of them are now victims of the earthquake.

“In the face of this epic disaster, I strongly appeal to the international community to show the people of Türkiye and Syria the same kind of support and generosity with which they received, protected and assisted millions of refugees and displaced people. 

“Now is the hour to stand up for the people of Türkiye and Syria.”

Fiona Grahame

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