ShelterBox Responding To Deadly Quakes In Turkey And Syria

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — International disaster relief organization ShelterBox is responding to the devastating earthquakes in Southern Türkiye (Turkey) and Northern Syria, drawing on its expertise providing humanitarian aid after earthquakes in the region.  

ShelterBox is immediately sending an assessment team to the region to work with local partners to determine what support is needed. ShelterBox specializes in providing customized emergency shelter and other life-saving household supplies immediately following disasters and in conflict zones.   

“These tragic earthquakes have caused historic destruction in an area already home to many displaced individuals,” said Kerri Murray, president of ShelterBox USA, which is based in Santa Barbara, Calif. “Thousands of buildings and homes have collapsed. As search and rescue crews continue to look for survivors, ShelterBox is sending an assessment team and working with our partners in the region to find the best way to help.” 

The earthquakes are the worst to hit Türkiye in 100 years. The first 7.8 magnitude quake struck Türkiye close to the Syrian border in the early morning Monday local time, when many were sleeping. Just minutes later, a second 6.7 magnitude aftershock struck, followed by a third 7.5 magnitude quake in the same region.  

So far, they have killed more than 5,000 people and flattened thousands of buildings, rendering homes unsafe. Türkiye and Syria have declared a state of emergency and requested international assistance. 

As the search and rescue phase continues, humanitarian efforts are complicated by powerful aftershocks, below freezing temperatures, and snow. Those factors are likely to increase the humanitarian need in the region, and create challenges for supply chain and delivering aid. That’s why ShelterBox prepositions aid around the world, including in Syria.  

“Emergency responses to a disaster of this scale can be a huge logistical nightmare especially against the clock,” said Alice Jefferson, ShelterBox’s Head of Emergency Response. “Freezing temperatures and heavy rain are causing extra complications. The poor weather poses a real threat to life for people whose homes are now rubble or unsafe to return to.” 

Türkiye sits in a seismically active zone, and ShelterBox has responded to earthquakes in the region previously. In 2011, it responded to the Van earthquake in Eastern Türkiye, which killed more than 600.  

It also has extensive experience working in northern Syria, with more than 10 years working with local partners to support those displaced by Syria’s civil war – including specialized programs providing winter shelter and aid items.  

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