IOM calls on int’l community to strengthen efforts to reach millions in quake region

(Photo by Yasin AKGUL / AFP)

António Vitorino, director general of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has called on the international community to increase its efforts to ensure aid keeps reaching the millions of people in Turkey and Syria who were affected by devastating earthquakes last month.

According to the IOM, its appeal for $161 million to support response efforts in both countries is currently less than 30 per cent funded.

“In the ruins of historic Antakya city today, I met proud and brave people whose past has been eradicated, whose present is full of suffering and whose future is uncertain,” Vitorino said following a visit to the southern Turkish province of Hatay, one of the areas hardest hit by the earthquakes.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck near the Turkish city of Gaziantep – home to around 2 million people and on the border with Syria – as people were sleeping on February 6 was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.

According to relief organizations, the impact of the earthquakes will be felt for months and years to come.

The UN launched a $1 billion funding appeal to support millions of people in Turkey.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier said in a statement that the funds would provide humanitarian relief for three months to 5.2 million people. The money would “allow aid organizations to rapidly scale up vital support,” including in the areas of food security, protection, education, water and shelter, he added.

UN humanitarian agencies will need $397.6 million in funding over the next three months to respond to the most pressing humanitarian needs of 4.9 million people in Syria who have been affected by the quakes, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

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