Turkey earthquake - humanitarian update

Briefing Notes, 1 November 2011

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahečić to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 1 November 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The first two flights in our humanitarian airlift for the victims of eastern Turkey's devastating earthquake arrived in Erzurum on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, bringing 1,000 tents and 20,000 blankets. During the offloading of the second flight in Erzurum on Sunday, our chartered Ilyushin IL-76 was damaged by another taxiing aircraft. We found another aircraft yesterday and the third flight touched down in Erzurum at 00.30 today. A fourth and last flight carrying UNHCR relief items from our emergency stockpile in Dubai is scheduled to land within the next 24 hours.

The aid has been loaded onto trucks for onwards distribution, most likely to the town of Ercis, some 25 kilometres east of Van. Ercis was close to the quake's epicenter and was heavily impacted. UNHCR's emergency relief response for the victims of the earthquake amounts to 4,000 tents, 50,000 blankets and 10,000 sleeping mats. Part of this assistance comes from a consignment which was shipped to Turkey earlier this year.

According to the Turkish authorities, more than 600 people lost their lives and another 4,000 were injured in the earthquake, which struck Van and its surroundings a week ago. The city of Van alone has a population of some 400,000 people and many homes have been reduced to rubble or rendered unusable.

As well as helping the authorities with the immense shelter needs of the local population, a particular focus of our operation in Turkey is the well being of some 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers who were living in the area at the time the quake struck.

Most of these refugees and asylum seekers are Iranian and Afghan nationals. Their living conditions resemble those of other residents of Van. They need food, water and warm shelter as the autumn and winter months in this part of Turkey are harsh. There is already some snow on the ground and night temperatures have dropped to below zero. Many refugees and asylum seekers are afraid and some, on their own initiative, have left Van.

Relief assistance for Van is increasing by the day. There are presently three distribution points in the city. Together with our partners we are providing updated information to refugees and asylum seekers.

Last week (Friday) we deployed additional teams to support UNHCR staff who were present during the quake and who volunteered to stay on. Our office in Van remains operational and is working closely with the local authorities and NGOs to facilitate deliveries of humanitarian aid.

The Turkish Government and the local authorities in Van are working on a plan to relocate some people away from the disaster zone. Relocations of registered asylum seekers and refugees are being organized on a voluntary basis and our teams in Van are counselling and advising groups under our mandate. For the time being, the registration of potential new asylum seekers will be carried out in other cities rather than in Van. Our teams are facilitating their interviews and relocations as needed.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Turkey: Metin Corabatir on mobile +90 533 572 8716
  • In Geneva: Andrej Mahecic on mobile +41 79 200 76 17
• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Emergency Response

UNHCR is committed to increasing its ability to respond to complex emergency situations.

Pakistan Earthquake: The Initial Response

The UN refugee agency is providing hundreds of tonnes of urgently needed relief supplies for victims in northern Pakistan. UNHCR is sending family tents, hospital tents, plastic sheeting, mattresses, kitchen sets, blankets and other items from its global stockpiles. Within a few days of the earthquake, just as its substantial local stocks were all but exhausted, UNHCR began a series of major airlifts from its warehouses around the world, including those in Denmark, Dubai, Jordan and Turkey.

UNHCR does not normally respond to natural disasters, but it quickly joined the UN humanitarian effort because of the sheer scale of the destruction, because the quake affected thousands of Afghan refugees, and because the agency has been operational in Pakistan for more than two decades. North West Frontier Province (NWFP), one of the regions most severely affected by the quake, hosts 887,000 Afghan refugees in camps.

While refugees remain the main focus of UNHCR's concern, the agency is integrated into the coordinated UN emergency response to help quake victims.

Pakistan Earthquake: The Initial Response

Pakistan Earthquake: Braving the Winter Cold

December 2005 – January 2006

Winter in northern Pakistan has not been as harsh as many feared, but earthquake survivors are still experiencing dangerously low temperatures, along with snow, heavy rain and landslides.

To help people survive the tough conditions, UNHCR has distributed blankets, plastic sheeting, tents and stoves. Vulnerable children in Danna village, north of Muzaffarabad city, have received warm clothing. In camps in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), communal, heated tents have been set up, while in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, where there is not enough space for communal tents, stoves are being distributed to individual families. UNHCR staff are training camp residents on the safe use of stoves and reducing fire hazards. Finally, UNHCR partners are registering people displaced by earthquake, gathering information vital for both the provision of aid to survivors now and the reconstruction that will come later.

UNHCR is responsible for supporting the Pakistan authorities in some 160 relief camps housing nearly 140,000 people left homeless by the October 8th quake.

Pakistan Earthquake: Braving the Winter Cold

Pakistan Earthquake

The UN refugee agency is providing hundreds of tonnes of urgently needed relief supplies for victims in northern Pakistan. UNHCR is sending family tents, hospital tents, plastic sheeting, mattresses, kitchen sets, blankets and other items from its global stockpiles. Within a few days of the earthquake, just as its substantial local stocks were all but exhausted, UNHCR began a series of major airlifts from its warehouses around the world, including those in Denmark, Dubai, Jordan and Turkey.

UNHCR does not normally respond to natural disasters, but it quickly joined the UN humanitarian effort because of the sheer scale of the destruction, because the quake affected thousands of Afghan refugees, and because the agency has been operational in Pakistan for more than two decades. North West Frontier Province (NWFP), one of the regions most severely affected by the quake, hosts 887,000 Afghan refugees in camps.

While refugees remain the main focus of UNHCR's concern, the agency is integrated into the coordinated UN emergency response to help quake victims.

Pakistan Earthquake

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , SyriaPlay video

Turkey: Faysal's Flight from Kobane , Syria

More than 170,000 people have fled from the town of Kobane in northern Syria to escape a fierce offensive by ISIL militants. Faysal managed to escape to Turkey before the fighting in the cauldron of conflict intensified, but he still has some family left in the besieged town on the border.
Refugees Continue Flowing into TurkeyPlay video

Refugees Continue Flowing into Turkey

Turkey has opened borders point for Syrian Kurdish civilians fleeing clashes between ISIS militants and Kurdish forces. More than 138,000 have crossed over since Friday and more are expected.
Turkey: Surge of Syrian RefugeesPlay video

Turkey: Surge of Syrian Refugees

More than 138,000 Syrian Kurd refugees have crossed into Turkey from the north of Syria in the last three days. This is one of the largest refugee influxes into Turkey since the start of the Syrian crisis in March 2011.