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Turkey-Syria Earthquake: Three-Month Update

Over 400 tons of medical aid has been delivered or is pending delivery since the region was devastated by seismic activity.


Turkey-Syria Earthquake 2023

MARAS, TURKEY – FEBRUARY 23, 2023: A man walks among the collapsed buildings, days after severe earthquakes struck the southeastern region of Turkey, city of Maras, Turkey on February 23, 2023. The region was rocked by a series of devastating earthquakes, beginning on Feb. 6, 2023. (Photo by Baran Ozdemir for Direct Relief)

Almost three months have passed since the devastating February 6 earthquakes rocked southern Turkey and northern Syria, and humanitarian needs remain high across the impacted areas in both countries.

The combined impact of the earthquakes has been catastrophic across the region, killing more than 55,000 people and injuring more than 100,000, making this the deadliest earthquake disaster to strike the region in centuries. Hundreds of thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed, and millions of people remain displaced and living in temporary shelter accommodations across the region.

(Direct Relief)

Direct Relief mobilized emergency resources immediately, providing field medic packs, emergency funding for search and rescue operations, as well as responding to requests for medical aid from Turkey’s Ministry of Health and local organizations in both Turkey and Syria that were providing health services to impacted communities.

Since Feb. 6, 2023, Direct Relief has provided 408 tons of medical aid, valued wholesale at $85.3 million, to support health services in the wake of the earthquakes.

A charter flight of medical aid arrives in Turkey. (Photo courtesy of FedEx)

Financial Summary

The information included in this report by necessity includes unaudited figures because the organization’s formal audit coincides with its fiscal year, which is from July 1 to June 30. Audited figures for this period will be included when that audit and report are completed. Numbers are as of April 28, 2023.

Who Donated to the Response?

In response to the crisis, Direct Relief received contributions from 48,826 donors totaling $14,122,676 from individuals, foundations, businesses, and organizations located in 110 countries (including the U.S.). Donations from all 50 U.S. states and 4 territories were received.

Of the total amount of Turkey-Syria earthquake-designated contributions —

  • $8,375,543 was contributed by 48,667 individuals
  • $4,880,633 was contributed by 120 businesses
  • $866,500 was contributed by 39 foundations

How Were the Funds Used?

Of the total Turkey-Syria earthquake response-designated cash contributions received to date, Direct Relief has expended or committed $6,383,843 to improve the health and lives of people affected by the disaster.

This includes:

  • $1,761,920 on transportation (paid and pending)
  • $2,670,000 on financial assistance to organizations supporting emergency response
  • $1,322,406 on procurement of oxygen concentrators, field medic packs, and other supplies
  • $629,517 on emergency personnel costs and other organizational response management expenses

Consistent with Direct Relief’s Donation Policy, 100 percent of funds received for specific emergency events are devoted entirely to those events and none of the funds donated for Turkey-Syria earthquake response have been used for fundraising.

(As explained here, all Direct Relief's fundraising expenses are paid by the Direct Relief Foundation, which uses earnings on previously received bequests to the organization for this purpose and other non-programmatic costs.)

Medical Material Assistance

More than 23 tons of medical aid is staged for departure on Friday, Jan. 17, 2023, bound for Adana, Turkey. The shipment, which contains essential medications, chronic disease management medicines, prenatal, vitamins, and more, was specifically request by Turkey’s Ministry of Health and will be used to support the country’s health system as it treats people impacted by deadly earthquakes. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

Direct Relief’s main objective in any large-scale disaster response is to safely and securely deliver emergency medical resources – that are requested, approved by the responsible government authority, and appropriate for the circumstances – where they are most needed, as fast and efficiently as possible.

Direct Relief’s earthquake response support can be divided into three categories: medical material assistance, direct financial assistance and information assistance.

Even as aftershocks continued, Direct Relief began to work with Turkey's Ministry of Health and local organizations to determine real-time needs across the country’s health system and to determine and coordinate logistics to meet as many needs as possible.

In Syria, Direct Relief relied on longstanding relationships with groups that have been active in the country for many years and leveraged existing aid channels to funnel in a high volume of aid.

Direct Relief staff meet with first responders in Turkey. (Brea Burkholz/Direct Relief)

Direct Relief’s initial emergency shipment consisted of more than 100 field medic backpacks for search and rescue personnel dealing with injuries, infections, and other acute medical needs. Working with organizations such as the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the Renal Disaster Task Force, Direct Relief supported intensivists working to treat and stabilize those with traumatic injuries. Two charter flights have delivered medical aid to the region, including antibiotics, antihypertensives, diabetes medications, prenatal vitamins, water purification supplies, PPE, vaccinations, and more. A third charter flight is being prepared for departure May 7.

As of May 1, 2023, Direct Relief’s Turkey-Syria response efforts have resulted in the delivery or pending delivery of 408 tons of emergency medical goods, with a wholesale value of more than $85.3 million.

Over the past three months, Direct Relief’s close relationships with local groups, its strong partnership with corporate donors, and its ability to securely deliver large quantities of medical goods – including temperature-sensitive products that require the use of cold-chain supplies and technologies – have resulted in the organization becoming a significant channel for the delivery of medical goods to benefit the people Turkey and Syria recovering from the quake.

AKUT search and rescue team members pulled people from collapsed buildings in Turkey after the Feb. 6, 2023, earthquakes devastated the region. The organization received 108 field medic packs for triage care and $100,000 from Direct Relief to support emergency response efforts. (Photo courtesy of AKUT)

In Turkey

Healthcare facilities and organizations in Turkey that have received medical goods include:

  • Turkey's Ministry of Health
  • AKUT Search and Rescue
  • Ahbap Dernegi
  • Adana Metropolitan Municipality
  • Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality
Surgeons with the Syrian American Medical Society performed surgery in northwestern Syria in April. Direct Relief has provided the group with emergency operations funding as well as medical aid to support health services in Syria. (SAMS photo)

In Syria

Healthcare facilities and organizations in Syria that have received medical goods include:

  • Syrian American Medical Society
  • Syrian Relief and Development
  • Independent Doctor's Association

Direct Financial assistance

Thanks to the outpouring of financial support from donors, Direct Relief is providing cash assistance to help facilities and organizations effectively respond to the huge surge of patients at a time when many healthcare facilities have been damaged.

To date, Direct Relief has identified, vetted, and awarded emergency financial support totaling $2,703,675 in cash support for groups responding to medical needs related to the earthquake. The organization has supported groups in Turkey with $820,000 in funding and groups in Syria with $1,883,675.

Temporary containerized housing for specialists from the Turkish Society of Nephrology provides safe lodging near hospital facilities. (Courtesy photo)

Financial Support for Response in Turkey

Grant RecipientPurpose of FundingAmount
Society of Critical Care Medicine

Turkish Midwives Association
Emergency operating grant to support trauma care and delivery in Turkey.

Procurement and transportation of 1,000 safe birth kits to support postnatal recovery.

AKUT Search and Rescue Association Supported urban search and rescue efforts, and field medic packs for triage care.$100,000
Turkish Society of Intensive CarePurchase and transportation of 10 container housing units for medical staff.$50,000
Turkish Medical AssociationPurchase and transport of 10 container housing units for medical staff, stethoscopes, tablet computers and fuel.$50,000
Turkish Society of Nephrology - Renal Disaster Task ForcePurchase and transportation of four container housing units for medical staff cycling into Adiyaman, Hatay, and Kahramanmaras to provide care for crush wounds and resulting kidney issues from acute traumas.$20,000

Financial Support for Response in Syria

Grant RecipientPurpose of FundingAmount
Syrian American Medical Society Emergency procurement of medications, surgery supplies, customs clearance, and transportation costs.$1,614,240
Syria Relief and DevelopmentEmergency operating costs, customs clearance, and transportation.$110,380
Independent Doctor's AssociationEmergency operating expenses, warehousing and distribution of medical supplies, customs clearance, and transportation.$159,055

Information Assistance

In addition to the provision of medical material and financial aid in response to the crisis, Direct Relief has been a critical supplier of information to key organizations involved in the response. Working with technology companies, academic institutions, and health providers, Direct Relief has used human mobility data, geospatial analysis, and other data collection and analytics instruments to help understand key issues.

Within Turkey, Direct Relief has focused mainly on understanding the scale of human displacement. Using data from Meta on change in population density and movement between places, linked to surveys on the needs of internally displaced persons, Direct Relief has shared nearly two dozen reports and analytical data feeds focused on population displacement with agencies ranging from AFAD to the World Food Program.

Corporate Support

Direct Relief’s ability to furnish a large portion of the extensive medical material support without the expenditure of donor funds was due to the in-kind donations from healthcare manufacturers and distributors, many of which Direct Relief works with on an ongoing basis.

Healthcare company donors responded expansively to requests for their participation. Included among them are 3M, Abbott, AbbVie, Accord Healthcare, Amgen, Apotex, AstraZeneca, Baxter, Bayer, BD, BioMarin, BMS, Boehringer Ingelheim, Edenbridge, Embecta, Gilead, GSK, Haleon, Henry Schein, Hikma, Integra Lifesciences, Janssen, J&J, Kenvue, Lilly, McKesson, Medline, Merck & Co., Pfizer, Sandoz, Teva, and Viatris.

Looking Forward

MARAS, TURKEY – FEBRUARY 22, 2023: A street view in Maras on February 22, 2023. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit near Maras, Turkey, in the early hours of February 6, followed by another 7.5-magnitude tremor just after midday. The quakes caused widespread destruction in southern Turkey and northern Syria and were felt in nearby countries. (Photo by Baran Ozdemir for Direct Relief)

Direct Relief will maintain its commitment to bolster and sustain existing healthcare organizations and systems Turkey and Syria as well as support the healthcare workers that run them, by ensuring the flow of medical materials, funding, and information.

Long-term priorities for Direct Relief include maintaining the pipeline for needed medications, supporting primary health, strengthening rehabilitation services for those with traumatic injuries, and providing mental health and psychosocial support.

Direct Relief was able to provide the assistance detailed in this report as a result of its existing strong relationships with non-governmental organizations that were already receiving Direct Relief medical product shipments, ongoing work with clinical experts in the field to guide distribution and procurement decisions, existing partnerships and contracts in place to quickly request and receive high-quality medications from pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, and a strong track record of shipping large volumes of product, including those requiring cold chain packaging and storage, to difficult-to-access places to reach the most vulnerable patients.

Direct Relief will continue to provide assistance to the region as recovery continues.

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