Six months after two historical earthquakes shook Syria and Türkiye, Medair and its partners are scaling up their aid. The situation may have all but disappeared from international media, but poor infrastructures and sweltering summer temperatures mean the needs are as dire as ever.
Since the start of its earthquake response in February, Medair has assisted over 100’000 people in Syria and Türkiye. From building temporary shelter to providing psycho-social assistance and rehabilitating health clinics, the teams on the ground have worked tirelessly to alleviate the sufferings of local populations – indiscriminately of their nationality, ethnicity, religion or social status. “Needs alone dictate who receives our help” summarises Damon Elsworth, Senior Global Emergency Response Team Officer.
Medair has established a solid presence in Syria since 2015, so its staff can assist beneficiaries directly. In Türkiye, Medair’s registration is underway, so the organisation carries out its activities there through trusted local partners. Over the last six months, it has built strong working relationships with government agencies and civil society organisations. Medair does not work cross-border, the Syria and Türkiye operations are conducted separately.
While media attention dwindles, Medair scales up its operations
Despite the best efforts of Medair and its partners, the situation remains extremely precarious for survivors. Outside of the international media’s gaze, tens of thousands of families still live in tents or containers, with limited access to health care and sanitation infrastructure.
Medair plans to scale up its operations in the coming months, especially in Türkiye. “Medair will almost triple in size in Türkiye over the next couple of months. With a committed team, and competent partners, Medair is poised to implement vital programs on a new scale from now on” explains Damon Elsworth.
Summer brings specific challenges
Amidst these urgent needs, rising temperatures are causing additional worries. “When it is 40 degrees outside – which is not uncommon in summertime in these regions – it is even more in a tent” says Damon Elsworth. “These are unbearable temperatures that can cause severe health problems, especially among infants, pregnant women and elderly people.”
In Syria, water supply is also a growing concern. Despite truck deliveries and the installation of tanks, there is a fear that drinking water as well as water for basic hygiene will be insufficient. This could lead to severe health risks.
An additional risk associated to heat are fires. In July, over 40 wildfires were reported on Syrian territory. With tents set so close to each other in camps, the start of a fire could have life-threatening consequences for countless families who have already lost everything.
The projects of Medair in Türkiye are generously supported by SwS, PMU/Radiohjalpen, Lakermissionen, Medical Teams International, Tearfund New Zealand and Transform Aid International. In Syria, projects are funded by the Syrian Humanitarian Fund (SHF), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), Swiss Solidarity, Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), as well as private donations and Medair affiliates in Syria.