Thousands of people are without safe drinking water and sanitation facilities such as running water and toilets in Turkish provinces affected by a devastating earthquake last week, with the situation putting survivors, particularly children, at risk of disease, Save the Children said in a statement on Monday.
According to the leading humanitarian organization for children, Turkey urgently needs humanitarian assistance in order to prevent a secondary public health emergency.
“Many people in affected areas don’t have access to toilets or sanitation facilities, putting them at risk of waterborne diseases, which are particularly deadly for children,” said Randa Ghazy, regional media manager at Save the Children International.
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 Monday 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.
The quake flattened thousands of structures, trapping an unknown number of people and potentially impacting millions. Officials and medics said more than 35,000 people have died in both countries and that tens of thousands have been injured.
“The issue is compounded by the lack of health services, as many hospitals have been destroyed and those which are still standing are overwhelmed with thousands of injured people. Hospitals are also running short on medical supplies and fuel to operate. They won’t be able to cope with a waterborne disease outbreak, and children will be in the greatest danger,” Ghazy said.
The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday appealed for $77 million to provide food rations and hot meals for 874,000 people affected by the earthquake.
The number of people in need of aid “includes 284,000 newly displaced people in Syria and 590,000 people in Turkey, which includes 45,000 refugees and 545,000 internally displaced people,” the Rome-based organization said in a statement.