Global Emergency Update March 2023

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On February 6, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated large areas of southern Turkey and northwest Syria. Since then, several earthquakes and aftershocks have been confirmed in the same region—including a 5.6 magnitude quake on February 27. At least 8.8 million people are affected across both countries, with the death toll surpassing 50,000 and continuing to rise. The earthquakes led to the total destruction of homes and infrastructure, and left millions of people without food, water and shelter.

Areas most affected in Turkey include Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adıyaman, Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Diyarbakır, Malatya, Adana and Yesilyurt. Iskanderun, a coastal city, also experienced heavy flooding. Northern Syria was heavily affected in Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Latakia—areas already devastated by war. Many survivors are in urgent need of medical care, counseling and other assistance. Public hospitals are stretched beyond capacity.

8.8 million
people have been affected across Turkey and Syria.


Catholic Relief Services is supporting the response of Catholic partners whose teams mobilized immediately to help people to safety—even though many of their centers were damaged or destroyed. The Churches, shelters and community centers of many CRS-supported responders were immediately filled with displaced and traumatized families. CRS has been supporting these partners as they provide safe and warm refuge, mattresses and bedding, hot meals, hygiene supplies, winter supplies and emotional support.

relief supplies in Ukraine.

Caritas staff members survey the destruction in Lattakia and Tartous, Syria.

Photo courtesy of Caritas Syria


With homes and apartment buildings destroyed, the care of families is urgent in the months to come. CRS plans to support 12,000 families, or 60,000 people, with comprehensive assistance in affected urban areas, as well as in rural communities far from the reach of the larger-scale, government-led responses. Priorities for CRS support to our Catholic partners include the following:
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Shelter and community infrastructure

Collective shelters provide refuge, as do churches and other centers. CRS will support the needs, equipment and infrastructure of these spaces to provide safe, dignified, quality care. Especially for children and women—for whom risks are higher in spaces lacking privacy—CRS will support partners to ensure safety and protocols for their protection. Midterm solutions will include cash for rent, house repair and temporary shelters. CRS will also support rehabilitation and reconstruction following international standards of both homes and education infrastructure.

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Hot meals at churches, community centers and collective shelters help people access food and nourishment. Also, the provision of food kits allows people to take food to their homes. In areas where markets are functioning, cash or voucher assistance will help families buy food in local markets.

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Living and household supplies

The loss of homes brought with it the loss of key household items such as clothes, bedding, kitchen items and essential living supplies. The immediate provision of these, particularly in the cold winter months, will be critical and will continue to be needed as families set up transitional residences.
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Cash and voucher assistance

Millions of people have lost access to the money or credit required to meet their basic needs. Where markets are functioning, cash assistance or vouchers will offer people the dignity of choice to buy what they need most, as well as support local vendors, businesses and the market by injecting cash back into the economy.
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Water, hygiene and sanitation

Distributions of hygiene kits and sanitation supplies, and access to clean water help prevent waterborne illnesses and the potential for secondary emergencies. As partners operate collective shelters, additional enhancements to toilet and shower facilities are also needed to meet minimum standards for the number of residents. Furthermore, support for water and sanitation infrastructure will likely be needed as families return home or establish alternative residences—and for the rehabilitation of health centers and schools.
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Social services

In times of crisis, information is critical for families to make informed decisions. At Caritas reception centers and other partner facilities, people can learn about the information and social services available to them and receive support to enroll and access care.
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Counseling and other support services, and emotional care

Emotional care and support for families is significant as they grieve their losses, navigate ongoing fear or trauma and begin to heal. CRS will support our partners to provide case management, counseling for adults and children, and spaces for children and others to safely meet and benefit from targeted activities.
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Early recovery and livelihoods

Families have lost essential income and livelihoods. Over time, CRS and our partners will support households to rebuild businesses and earn income to meet their basic needs.
people will be reached with comprehensive assistance across the affected areas.


Solidarity expressed across the world is unwavering. Globally, Caritas members are supporting efforts by Catholic partners in the region—even across their borders. For example, within days of the first earthquake, Caritas Lebanon supported the loading of supplies onto trucks for distribution in areas of Syria where markets are devastated, with Lebanese young people accompanying the distribution.

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