Shelterbox continues to scale up its response to help people affected by a series of powerful earthquakes that left hundreds of thousands of people without adequate shelter across Turkey and Syria.
The international disaster relief charity, which was begun by Rotary in Cornwall, has more than 20 years of experience in disaster relief, including earthquake responses, yet its teams have not witnessed destruction on the sheer scale they’re seeing in Turkey before.
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Within 72 hours of the earthquakes, that have claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people across the two countries, ShelterBox had an emergency response team in Turkey. A month on and an unknown number of people remain unaccounted for beneath the rubble.
The cold is presenting an immediate risk to life to people who survived – either too afraid to return home, or with no home to go back to.
People in Turkey and Syria are already receiving ShelterBox aid, including essential items such as tents, blankets, mattresses, and winter coats for children, with more on the way.
The items will help people surviving through this ongoing nightmare, protecting them from the bitter temperatures, preventing the spread of disease, and providing some privacy, as they get back on their feet.
In Turkey, ShelterBox is working in partnership with Rotary and closely with local communities and officials to ensure key services alongside shelter provision.
In addition to the charity’s first stocks of tents imported soon after the earthquakes, more tents and other essential items like blankets, mattresses, stoves, and solar lights are being distributed to communities in Hatay.
ShelterBox Emergency Response Manager, Dave Raybould, says: “The circumstances in Turkey are very challenging and our long-standing relationship with Rotary has been pivotal in helping us make progress.
At least two million people have lost their homes in Turkey and more than 80,000 people in Syria have been displaced – many not for the first time.”
“The powerful combination of Rotarians with strong networks and local knowledge coupled with 20 years of ShelterBox expertise in delivering emergency shelter support means that we are able to provide the right support at the right time for people affected by the earthquakes.
“Incredible Rotary members in Turkey have made a huge difference to how we are operating. ShelterBox and Rotary are working together dynamically in the face of immense need.”
Rotary is supporting the earthquakes response being led by the Government of Turkey, coordinated through AFAD and with the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC). Rotary is working closely with, and has permission from, AFAD to operate in some of the affected areas.
Organisations without this specific type of registration, like ShelterBox, need to work through locally based partners.
This is possible for ShelterBox through its long-standing partnership with Rotary. It is this valued and vital partnership, combined with a shared vision to help people who need it most after disaster and a huge effort from all involved, that is driving the response forward in Turkey.
Rotary districts are working together to support communities across the region, as well as making crucial introductions for ShelterBox response teams with local leaders and authorities. Local Rotaract members have been supporting ShelterBox with translation and local liaison as they provide training to local authority members ahead of the next tent distributions.
As well as supporting ShelterBox to help people in rural areas and design a longer-term recovery project to support the rehabilitation and onward education of children, Rotary continues to manage multiple projects – immediate food, clothing and hygiene deliveries, a mobile hospital project and a commitment to a ‘container city’.
At least two million people have lost their homes in Turkey and more than 80,000 people in Syria have been displaced – many not for the first time.
A well-coordinated response is vital in such a complex and huge crisis.
With shelter remaining a priority need across Turkey and Syria, ShelterBox is working with multiple in-country partners to support as many people as possible.
They are being supported around the clock by ShelterBox teams in the UK and around the world, and a huge supply chain effort continues.
ShelterBox has been supporting people affected by the conflict in Syria for more than 10 years.
Refugees and internally displaced people who had fled from conflict in Syria have been uprooted once more leaving them without shelter again.
The powerful combination of Rotarians with strong networks and local knowledge coupled with 20 years of ShelterBox expertise in delivering emergency shelter support means that we are able to provide the right support at the right time for people affected by the earthquakes.”
With nearly 3 million people already displaced by the war, communities are facing multiple threats, including harsh living conditions, powerful aftershocks, freezing temperatures, and diseases like cholera. And the conflict continues.
As part of its conflict response, ShelterBox worked with ReliefAid, and has been working with them to distribute children’s winter coats following the earthquakes. With them ShelterBox is also working to provide blankets and mattresses to thousands of people newly arriving at camps.
As well as tents, high thermal blankets, and mattresses, ShelterBox will be supplying people in northern Syria with solar lights, water carriers, and multi-purpose cash with its partner Bahar. Cash assistance gives people who have been left with very little the flexibility to get what essential items they need.
ShelterBox is continuing to move aid across the border to its partner Bahar and the first truck containing tents from its warehouse in Belgium has now arrived.
ShelterBox strategically pre-positions aid all over the world to help get crucial supplies to disaster affected communities as quickly as it can. More are due in the next week and will likely help shelter people in north-west Aleppo.
ShelterBox has an emergency fundraising appeal to help people affected by the earthquakes and other disasters around the world.