Kahramanmaras Earthquake: Farid Rashid Recalls Effects in Syria

Farid Mohammad Rashid, one of our RRB™ trainers, shares an account he has gathered from news reports and close sources of the effects in Northern Syria as a result of the earthquake that occurred in the early hours of 6th February. 

At 4:17am, a new chapter of suffering started in Syria. After 12 years of fighting and the severe aftermath of the war, a powerful earthquake hit the buildings and constructions, causing more than 5500 killings, thousands of wounded and more than 5.5 million homeless people (at the time of writing).

Dr. Khawla Al-Sawah from The Union of Relief Organizations and Medical Care stated: “[t]he news is terrifying and heart breaking. The infrastructure was already dilapidated due to years of war and bombing and so we are in dire need of help to save the lives of those injured by this strong earthquake.”

Farid recalls the frustrations of himself and others, bringing into focus news reports and statements that have emerged:

“First: those who were tragically lost under the rubble. Most victims died due to the limited amount of qualified rescue teams or equipment available to save them. The Arab Organization for Human Rights in Britain said the international community has failed in responding quickly to the humanitarian catastrophe that struck northern Syria. Despite the many appeals to provide aid in the first three days, the appeals went unheeded and harsh weather conditions made the rescue effort near impossible. As a result, the number of  victims has been devastatingly high. Adding to this, is the four-day delay in opening the crossings between Turkey and Syria. This prevented any aid from entering the area at the most critical point of the rescue.

Second: those who’s houses were affected. People, who were already displaced, were made homeless again in temperatures ranging from 5 to -5 degrees. The Syrian Government currently have no plans to re-house, compensate or provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the earthquake. Moreover, the international aid cannot secure any adequate compensation due to the current complex political circumstances. It will remain a question for a long time as to where and how those people will be rehoused. At present, hundreds of thousands of Syrian live in streets, parks and other shelters with limited food and other supportive materials.

Third: those unable to return to their houses due to trauma and fear of more earthquakes. People are spending nights in parks, streets, or cars in this freezing weather. Mosques, churches, schools, and some tents are also crowded. Many people are worried about the lack of organized shelters for citizens who have been displaced by the disaster, as well as the lack of aid that reaches them and the randomness of its distribution.”

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Farid provides a statement from his mother who survived the initial earthquake effects: “I woke up to the unimaginable noise of the doors and windows, alongside my brother and his wife and two kids. Without thinking, we rushed out of the house, barefooted and in unsuitable clothes for the heavy rain and freezing weather. We had to stay in the street for one hour before my brother managed to make his way back to the house to get us necessary supplies. Then, we had to stay in a park until the next morning before moving to a safer house, a flat with no floors that could fall on us, to get some rest. I felt so scared of sleeping under any concrete ceiling.”

Describing the current conditions on the sixth day after the earthquake hit Northern Syria, Farid states: “The cities affected are disaster areas. The humanitarian aid is still so poor. The political circumstances following the conflict in Syria make things more difficult for this aid to reach those in need. We will need months and even years before these affected people and areas are recovered. Turkey has fortunately received timely and international and local support. However, this is not the case for Syrians.”

Providing support: To ensure money goes to the heart of the cause in Syria, the BBC has recommended donating to The White Helmets Charity who are directly on the ground.

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