Türkiye-Syria earthquakes: One year on

One year after the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and north-west Syria, we look back on the impact on the region’s older people and the work done to provide them and their families with support.

Our impact

With our partners, we swung into action immediately after the earthquakes struck, providing urgent support to those impacted by the destruction, supporting older people and their families. This included the distribution of food and non-food items, as well as providing emergency cash assistance so that people could buy what they needed. We helped with the building of temporary shelters, and distributed items that were essential to survive the winter cold. We also supported the delivery of primary healthcare and psychological support especially for older people with and without disabilities.

None of this could have been achieved without the support of HelpAge’s local partners – the Syrian Expatriates Medical Association, Hope Revival Organization and Action for Humanity – who all led on the delivery of the emergency response.

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Survivor story

Mohamed Albaik, 56, a survivor of the devastating earthquake that struck north-west Syria one year ago, shares his story and emphasises the ongoing need for support.

Needs assessment of older people in Syria

Our needs assessment of older people in north-west Syria has uncovered some alarming statistics, highlighting the critical situation they are facing.

Most older people face food insecurity, water scarcity as well as income instability. Many suffer from a health condition and experience loneliness and isolation.

To ensure inclusivity in responses, data disaggregated by sex, age, disability, and ethnicity must be gathered, analysed, used and published. Responding organisations must involve older people in developing feedback mechanisms, increase awareness of feedback channels, establish outreach services, and provide tailored support for older caregivers and their dependents. Sharing information in accessible formats, strengthening community networks and investing in capacity building is essential as well.

Download: Needs assessment of older people. North-west Syria earthquake response

Older people are one of the groups most likely to be in a vulnerable position and face disadvantage and exclusion in times of crisis. They face obstacles in accessing suitable emergency shelters, supplies, and services. Extreme weather conditions also pose additional health risks to them. And it is a well-known fact that the current humanitarian model is not equipped to meet their unique needs, as a result of which they are overlooked in the initial response.

We must make sure that rescue and relief efforts everywhere are inclusive of older people and respond to their specific needs.

In the aftermath of the Türkiye-Syria earthquake, we see a stark reality: an added layer of hardship for the already vulnerable population in north-west Syria, particularly older people. This earthquake has intensified existing challenges and introduced new ones, impacting the lives of 4.5 million people already grappling with the enduring effects of conflict. It's not just an earthquake; it's a crisis within a crisis, underscoring the urgent need for humanitarian support to mitigate the devastating aftermath and rebuild the resilience of the affected communities.

Basem Shaher, grant management coordinator, Syrian Expatriates Medical Association

HelpAge’s work in the region

HelpAge International has been active in Syria since 2013 with operations concentrated in northwest Syria – specifically in the Idlib and Aleppo districts. Through local partners, HelpAge has been providing access to mental health and psychosocial support, health and nutrition programmes, as well as essential items during emergencies.

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