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“New shelter camps every day”


Anis manages a team of 22 HI physiotherapists and psychosocial support experts in North Syria. He describes the earthquake response provided by HI.

A man walks in front of an excavator woking on a collapsed building

As the official death toll rises by the hour, residents, often with their bare hands, continue to search for survivors in the rubble of thousands building brought down by the powerful earthquake and multiple aftershoks. The quake has brought down thousands of buildings and killed thousands of person | © HI

After a week, we now feel safe

"One week after the earthquake, we now feel safe. For days, we were terrified by the aftershocks. They were perhaps more terrifying than the first earthquake itself. 

The next days of the disaster, we couldn’t sleep. We stayed the night in our cars, in the street, because we were all afraid. There were fires in the street so that people can get warm. The aftershocks are still happening and the people are still afraid and shocked. 

In my town, some buildings collapsed. 25 people died. A lot of cities around mine are much more affected. 

New shelter camps every day 

I saw so many collapsed buildings in the cities and so many people in the shelter camps. They need food, blankets, oil…. They need everything. Most of the people in the camps are women and children and older people. I do not know why we see so few men. 

We went to three shelter centers yesterday to check if there were injured people. We found some cases but the vast majority of freshly injured people are in hospitals. In camps, we met vulnerable and weak people like elderly and children

Most of the shelter camps consist in one collective tent and can gather dozens of families. In one shelter, there was a safe space for children who were playing with old toys.

All these people leave their homes, they lost relatives…we can see the sadness in the eyes of children.

Everyday there are new shelters, new people people. Everyday, we are visiting new shelters centers and hospitals to identifying their needs. We work seven days a week.

A too common tragedy in North Syria 

At the hospitals, our staff has been providing rehabilitation sessions and psychosocial support since the very first day of the emergency. A lot of patients need wheelchairs and physiotherapy exercises. It is difficult for the team because of the huge number of injured people. The people were under the collapsed buildings for hours, some for days… For a lot of them, the cases are very complicated. 

To be honest, it is not the first time we see such a crisis. We have been under the war for more than 10 years now. But we are now under a disaster that seems bigger than us. We are overwhelmed by the number of the injured people."

Date published: 02/17/23


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