David Miliband Statement on the Devastating Earthquake in Syria & Türkiye
New York, NY, February 8, 2023 — David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said, “This devastating earthquake is truly a crisis within a crisis. 24 hours before the catastrophe, over 15 million Syrians were already in need of humanitarian assistance, more than at any other time since the conflict began. Civilian infrastructure and basic services had been left decimated by more than a decade of conflict. Across Syria, less than 60% of hospitals and public health care centers were fully functional as a cholera outbreak spread to every governorate in the country. One of the deadliest earthquakes this century, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, now adds to a litany of devastation.
“For the areas worst hit by the earthquake in the northwest of Syria, humanitarian access was already heavily constrained. Despite relentless advocacy from NGOs and UN agencies, most humanitarian aid comes in via one remaining UN-mandated crossing-point with Türkiye. One channel for humanitarian aid was already insufficient, making a challenging operating environment all the more so. It will now take even more extraordinary efforts to reach those in need, making it all the more critical to ensure levels of aid increase at pace.
“Those affected in both Syria and Türkiye need our help now more than ever. The immediate priority must be search and rescue capacity to save lives and the provision of essential goods and medical attention to support those who have survived. The catastrophe evinces the need more than ever to support those caught in crisis, ensuring levels of aid meet newly skyrocketing needs.”
As humanitarian needs soar, in both Türkiye and Syria, the IRC is launching an integrated response to affected populations in both countries. This will include provision of immediate cash, basic items such as household kits, dignity kits for women and girls and hygiene supplies. The IRC through its partners will support essential health services in earthquake affected areas, and set up safe spaces for women and children affected.