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Friday 23 March 2012

ShelterBox revisits Turkey
ShelterBox revisits Turkey Aerial view of the ShelterBox camp set up in the city of Van, November 2011. 

Two significant earthquakes hit Van Province in Eastern Turkey in October and November last year. Thousands of people were made homeless in the region that experiences harsh winters with sub-zero temperatures and high snowfall. 

ShelterBox responded, distributing 1,341 ShelterBoxes along with an additional thermal layer for each family relief tent. It was the first deployment that the thermal layer had been used, and the first significant deployment in a region that experiences prolonged Northern Hemisphere winters. 

Five months after the quakes struck, UK-based ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Fionn McKee and Operations Assistant Rebecca Ridgeway deployed to Turkey to conduct a ShelterBox monitoring and evaluation program. 

The ShelterBox camp set up in Van in March 2012. 

The program is aimed at interviewing beneficiary families to collect feedback regarding the performance of the ShelterBox aid in a cold climate, as well as meeting with partners that worked with ShelterBox during the deployment. 

The majority of families have moved into portable housing, also known as containers, as reconstruction work is set to commence in the next few weeks now temperatures are finally starting to increase. However, some families are still living in ShelterBox disaster relief tents. 

"I never imagined that I could stay in a tent in the winter for 40 days," said Bulent Turgut, a small business owner whose apartment was partially damaged in the first 7.2-magnitude earthquake. 

Members of the Birhan family outside their ShelterBox tent in Van, March 2012. 

Birgil Kurkmaz Birhan and his family have had the option of living in containers and said, "We prefer to stay in the ShelterBox tent." 

"While beneficiaries want life to return to normal as soon as possible, many have told us that they prefer to stay in the ShelterBox tents rather than return home as they are still living in fear of the aftershocks," said Ridgeway. 

"The feedback ShelterBox receives time and time again is that the tent is one, if not the, best humanitarian tent available," said McKee. "We don't want families to be living in tents any longer than is necessary. But if livelihoods and homes have been destroyed then a ShelterBox tent not only provides high quality emergency shelter, it helps families stay together and set them on their way to recovering from a disaster." 

To read more about ShelterBox's response to the disaster, visit the deployment page here.
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