Rubble from a destroyed building

Emergency teams work seven days a week

Anis manages a 22-member team of physical therapists and psychosocial support experts for Humanity & Inclusion in North Syria. He describes the response provided by HI.

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 at 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, and 25 people died. A lot of cities around mine are much more affected.

Growing shelter camps

I saw so many collapsed buildings in the cities around me and so many people in the shelter camps. They need food, blankets, and oil. They need everything. Most people in the camps are women, 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.

Most of the shelter camps gather dozens of families; the shelter camp is often only one huge tent. In one shelter, there was a safe space for children who were playing with old toys.

All these people left their homes, they lost relatives. We can see the sadness in the eyes of children.

Every day there are new shelters, and new people coming. We are visiting new shelters and hospitals daily to identify the needs. We work seven days a week.

Compounding tragedies

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 physical therapy 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’ve seen such a crisis. We have been under 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 injured people.

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