The World Health Organization (WHO) launched an appeal worth $43 million to support the earthquake response in Syria, and Türkiye, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said Tuesday.
“I expect this to at least double over the coming days, as we get a better assessment of the massive scale of this crisis and the needs,” said Hans Kluge in a press briefing related to urgent health needs and response in Türkiye following last week’s earthquakes.
Kluge said that the money will be used to “Ensure access to the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations, provide trauma care and post-trauma rehabilitation and provide essential medicines and emergency kits to fill urgent healthcare gaps.”
It will also be used to “deliver vital mental and psychosocial support to the affected populations and ensure continuity of routine health services, especially for women, children, the elderly, and those with non-communicable diseases,” he added.
Kluge said that WHO delivered the largest deployment of Emergency Medical Teams in the WHO European Region in its 75-year history, adding 12 emergency medical teams have arrived in Türkiye so far and 10 others are on the way.
Kluge said, “Now is the time for the international community to show the same generosity that Türkiye has shown to other nations over the years,” adding the country has been hosting 4.2 million refugees, the largest refugee population in the world.
“We are witnessing the worst natural disaster in the WHO European Region for a century. We are still learning about its magnitude. Its true cost is not known yet,” he said.
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“Recovering and healing will take time and a phenomenal effort. But I can assure you that WHO will remain steadfast, alongside the people of Türkiye and Syria, for as long as it takes,” he added.
Kluge also thanked Turkish Health Ministry and minister Fahrettin Koca “for his leadership and coordination with who and the international community 24/7.”
For his part, Batyr Berdyklychev, WHO Representative in Türkiye, said that “severe damage to water and sanitation system is a concern, and it increases the risk of waterborne diseases and outbreaks of communicable diseases.”
WHO Türkiye office is working under the UN country team mechanism with a number of Turkish ministries, including health, “because this disaster requires a comprehensive response, including water provision, protection, sanitation, food, and shelter,” said Berdyklychev.
Berdyklychev said that displaced people living in crowded community settings are also more exposed to the risk of outbreaks such as seasonal influenza and COVID and the WHO country office working in close coordination with Turkish authorities.