A recent series of deadly earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria and their aftershocks felt in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, and Jordan, resulting in over 20,000 confirmed casualties and injuries, according to reports by the Turkish Ministry of Health and The Guardian. Many nonprofit and volunteer organizations are providing immediate food assistance.
The first earthquake of 7.8 magnitude occurred early in the morning, with the following earthquake of 7.5 magnitude landing later in the afternoon based on research from the U.S. Geological Survey. These cascading weather events including earthquakes and their aftershocks caused widespread damage to apartment buildings, homes and energy infrastructure.
Chef and Activist José Andres is mobilizing the World Central Kitchen to send chefs and support to the country as soon as possible. Andres recently announced that he is en route to Istanbul to aid teams that are already on the ground in affected areas.
World Food Programme teams are also on the ground in both Syria and Turkey, having operated in each country since 1964 and 2012, respectively. In Turkey, the Turkish Red Crescent is shipping food to Kahramanmaraş and the nine other provinces through mobile kitchens, and they are actively accepting donations to continue these efforts in the coming weeks and months.
In Syria, a student-led initiative, the Molham Team is accepting donations to expand their food distribution to displaced Syrians in Northwestern Idlib Province that are now food-insecure due to the crisis.
Before the existing crisis, nearly 30 percent of the Turkish population fell below the national poverty line, according to the World Food Programme. This does not include the 4.1 million Syrian refugees that were already facing food insecurity in Northern Syria.
The Turkish government is monitoring critical infrastructure that affects the water system. Vahit Kirişci, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, released a statement in response to the state of the country’s dams following the earthquakes: “Of the 140 dams in the region, we paid special attention to them because 34 of them were dams of critical importance. The necessary investigations have been made to prevent them from creating any problems.” These investigations are ongoing, but the Ministry did not report significant damage thus far.
The World Bank reports that roughly half of the country is devoted to agriculture and approximately one in five Turkish citizens work in this industry. The Turkish government has not publicly announced the damage to agricultural land impacted by the earthquakes at this point.
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Photo courtesy of Emre, Unsplash