Statement on behalf of R4HSSS, the Syrian British Medical Society and the Syria Public Health Network

We are deeply saddened by the news of the earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwest Syria in the early morning of Monday 6 February 2023. Our sympathies and condolences go out to the people of these regions who have suffered great losses in the Hatay, Gaziantep, Kilis and Diyarbakir governorates in southern Turkey, and Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, and Latakia governorates in northwest Syria. It is believed that this earthquake has caused many casualties and severe destruction.

Reports from Turkey suggest that over 284 people have died and more than 1700 buildings have been destroyed in the southern Turkish provinces. In northwest Syria, the areas most affected have been the northern parts of Aleppo and Idlib governorates. According to the Damascus Ministry of Health, there have been 237 deaths and many injuries in regime-held areas, with Aleppo city being the most affected in these areas. The opposition-controlled areas have also been severely affected, particularly in areas close to the Turkey border where there are hundreds of IDPs camps. The displacement camps in Harim and Salqeen districts have been particularly hard hit, with numerous casualties reported.

The health system in northwest Syria is already fragile and fragmented after more than 12 years of dreadful conflict, and is incapable of responding to such a major catastrophe. The White Helmets and Idlib Health Directorates, as well as other NGOs, have initiated a rescue mission but with limited resources.

We mourn the loss of life in both countries and stand in solidarity with them as they continue to search for survivors and rebuild after this tragic event. There is an urgent need for an international response to the earthquake, particularly in the opposition held areas in northwest Syria where there is no state capacity to resource and lead the response.