14 February 2023 Rome – More than a week after the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, humanitarian organizations continue to work 24 hours a day to provide medical and relief aid to those affected. Through its local partner organizations in Syria, Malteser International – the Order of Malta’s international relief agency – is distributing tents, beds, blankets and food to the affected population.
“We are supporting our partner organizations on the ground with the procurement and distribution of relief materials. Tents, generators, blankets, mattresses and food are currently the most urgent goods. The wounded, the sick, the elderly and children are particularly in need of care and protection. Every euro is needed, because so many people are affected,” says Oliver Hochedez, Head of Malteser International’s Emergency Relief Department, which coordinates emergency aid for Turkey and Syria from the Turkish border town of Kilis.
The affected area is almost as large as Germany. Logistics is a major challenge, the scale of destruction unimaginable. “There is also a great need for drinking water and sanitation,” says Hochedez.
In Syria, the situation is particularly precarious. Malteser International works closely with four partner organisations in northwest Syria. Their activities focus mainly on medical and psychological assistance to people affected by the earthquake and on the local supply of relief goods. The supply of humanitarian goods through the open border crossings of Bal al Hawa and Bab al Salam is also ongoing.
Malteser International currently supports six hospitals, a maternal clinic with a children’s hospital and eight primary health care units in the regions of Idlib and North-Aleppo in northwestern Syria. The Order of Malta’s relief organisation has been active in the region with humanitarian projects since 2012.
Other Order of Malta associations have also been mobilised, sending relief teams such as the Lebanese association and the Hungarian assistance service. Numerous fundraising campaigns are underway.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 20 million people are affected by the consequences of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.