Severe earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: Germany and Europe are helping people on the ground

The Welthungerhilfe distributes relief supplies to the Idlib region

The Welthungerhilfe distributes relief supplies to the Idlib region, © Welthungerhilfe

20.03.2023 - Article

The earthquakes in the Turkish-Syrian border region are among the most severe natural disasters of the last 100 years. More than 52,000 people were killed and more than 100,000 injured. Germany is now doubling its earthquake assistance for Syria and Turkey.

German engagement in the areas in Turkey and Syria affected by the earthquakes

Since the earthquakes, the German Government has pledged 238 million euro in assistance for those in Turkey and Syria affected by the earthquakes. This includes the cost of search and rescue teams, which began their deployment immediately after the disaster, and humanitarian assistance to address the aftermath of the earthquakes. On top of the 108 million euro already provided, the German Government pledged an additional 130 million euro at the donors’ conference held in Brussels on 20 March. Even now that the initial acute search and rescue phase is over, Germany will thus not abandon the people in the areas affected by the earthquakes and will continue to provide targeted assistance in line with local needs.

Support for people in Turkey

Immediately after the earthquakes, and together with its European and international partners, Germany responded to Turkey’s request for assistance with rescue and recovery. Because it is essential in such emergencies to listen to the concrete requests of the countries affected and to provide what is actually needed.

As a result, two search and rescue teams – sent by I.S.A.R. Germany and the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) – were in action in Turkey. The Federal Police also sent emergency medical technicians and sniffer dogs to the affected area. Many other EU partners mobilised search and rescue teams with a total of more than 1000 emergency workers and 70 sniffer dogs via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. These teams were specially trained to rescue people from such emergencies using heavy equipment and dogs. Our NGO partner @fire also travelled to the affected area, where it assisted in the operation of Adana airport and helped with a rescue mission in Kahramanmaraş.

The survivors’ living conditions are precarious: thousands of people have lost their homes, while the supply of food, drinking water and medical provisions has been impaired. Tents, sleeping bags, blankets, camp beds, heaters and generators, among other things, are needed. The Federal Agency for Technical Relief is therefore already delivering 343 tonnes of such supplies funded by the Federal Foreign Office. The Länder and the Federal Ministry of Health have also offered to provide assistance to Turkey via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. A substantial proportion of these materials have already been transported to the crisis region by the Bundeswehr.

The German implementing organisations GIZ and KfW are also on the ground in the crisis region, using development funding to implement projects to support and integrate Syrian refugees as well as to assist host communities. As an immediate response, 13 million euro have already been provided ad hoc for support measures such as the provision of psychological first aid teams and cash aid for small companies. 

Germany will remain engaged and will tailor its contributions to the assistance that Turkey requests, for example with regard to water purification and medical care.

Support for people in Syria

Syria, too, was strongly affected by the earthquakes. Particularly in north-western Syria including in the Idlib region, where the humanitarian situation was already extremely tense and where many internally displaced Syrians live, a very large number of people were killed and injured. What is more, even before the earthquakes occurred these very regions were badly affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria which began 12 years ago. Providing assistance to those in need in these regions is therefore also a high priority for the German Government.

As one of the largest supporters of people there, Germany already prior to the earthquakes in north-western Syria was making substantial humanitarian assistance available and last year provided around 100 million euro to its local partners. This established network has helped us quickly get needs-based assistance off the ground, even after the earthquakes. The German Government is, for example, supporting the work of the Welthungerhilfe (formerly German Agro Action) aid organisation for the distribution of bread and Malteser International for access to clean water.

Specifically, we have already increased by a further 99 million euro our humanitarian assistance for people in Syria. This funding is going to the Syria Cross-border Humanitarian Fund and the Syria Humanitarian Fund, among others. These two funds are managed by the United Nations organisation OCHA. Thus these financial resources can be channelled quickly and in line with needs to international and Syrian NGOs, as well as to international organisations.

As the second-largest donor country, Germany is also helping to cover the cost of UN aid supplies that are now flowing from Turkey into north-western Syria via three border crossings.

In addition, the German Government is contributing 1.5 million euro to an EU shipment of relief supplies to the region. Germany is providing 73 tonnes of supplies: tents, heaters, beds and generators. These items, too, are being paid for with Federal Foreign Office international disaster relief assistance funds. The Federal Agency for Technical Relief has taken on the task of procuring and making available the supplies in Germany, which are then locally distributed by the UN World Food Programme (WFP). 

Following on from the humanitarian assistance, GIZ is carrying out structural measures in north-western Syria using development cooperation funds. Among other things, this enables partners – largely Syrian NGOs – to keep hospitals and health stations running and to further train healthcare personnel. German Government development funds to the tune of 15 million euro are being used to rehabilitate the public infrastructure damaged by the earthquakes in north-western Syria and other affected regions.

From the sphere of crisis prevention, stabilisation and peacebuilding, the German Government is providing civil society partners with 1.5 million euro for urgently needed support, including water purification tablets and baby products.

Further international measures

Moreover, the UN has announced that 50 million US dollars from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) are being released for people in Syria and in Turkey. Germany is the largest contributor to this fund.

Immediately after the earthquakes, funds were also allocated to the German Red Cross for emergency measures. 100 tonnes of aid supplies (food, blankets) are being made available in Turkey via the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, while in Syria the aid focus is on providing medicine and food, as well as financial and personnel support for the logistics and coordination efforts.

Furthermore, the Syria Recovery Trust Fund, co-founded by Germany, is making available almost 9 million euro for civil emergency preparedness and other forms of assistance. Of this sum, 1.9 million euro have been earmarked for the White Helmets. Germany is the largest contributor to this fund.


Top of page