Women and girls among most affected by Turkey Syria earthquake

  • Date: 08/02/2023
  • Author: Jo-Ann Ward

ActionAid says the situation for women, girls and marginalised communities in the aftermath of the Turkey Syria earthquake is becoming increasingly alarming. 

With reports that many families will spend another night without any form of temporary shelter in freezing cold conditions, ActionAid says it fears for the safety of those out on the streets. It is also concerned there are no provisions for women and girls who are menstruating, pregnant or breastfeeding and have particular needs. 

So far almost 10,000 people have been killed and more than 35,000 have been injured and displaced by the earthquake in Syria and Turkey.  

Karol Balfe, CEO of ActionAid Ireland, said: “It’s tragic to see the number of casualties rising. The situation is particularly devastating as it affects Syrian refugees, many of whom have been displaced multiple times. We’re appealing to the Irish public to support the humanitarian response on the ground.”

Impact of the Syria Turkey earthquake on and girls

Women and girls living in the regions impacted by the earthquake were already living in very vulnerable situations having fled their homes in Syria and were relying on humanitarian assistance. 

Racha Nasreddine, Regional Director of ActionAid Arab Region, said: ‘‘This is a shocking situation, after 12 years of conflict in Syria, women and girls internally displaced in Syria and living as refugees in Turkey were already in a very vulnerable situation before the earthquake and now they have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed.  

“We know that women and girls often suffer the most during humanitarian emergencies. Violence against them increases and they are more at risk of being exploited. There’s very limited access to services like hospitals and so pregnant women are at risk of complications if they can’t receive the medical care they need. Those who are menstruating will also need to manage their periods without the right products and with very little privacy. 

“We are urgently assessing the situation with our partner on the ground and working through our response plan. We know there is an urgent need for spaces women and girls can go to which are safe, as well as kits which have period products in, so we will be making sure these are addressed.” 

ActionAid’s response

ActionAid is calling on the international community to ensure the humanitarian response to the earthquake is adequately funded. This must include the care of survivors of gender-based violence, and support for the safe and unhindered access of aid organisations to the hardest hit communities. ActionAid helps with damages done by the climate crisis.

ActionAid is currently appealing to the public for donations.

Image: Turkey Earthquake – Survivors gather around open flames to keep warm in Hatay, Turkey. Photographer credit: Cansu yıldıran / ActionAid

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