Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria

UNHCR is deeply saddened to see the tragic aftermath of the deadly earthquakes in the Southeast of Türkiye. We offer our condolences to those who have lost family, friends, and loved ones.

What is UNHCR doing to help?

In Türkiye

UNHCR stands with Türkiye at this difficult time and remains committed to supporting the Turkish authorities in responding to this situation.

While we don’t have a comprehensive picture of the impact of earthquakes yet, we are following up on needs with the authorities and stand ready to provide support and assistance. Through our communication platforms and channels (UNHCR Türkiye HELP page en de UNHCR Türkiye Information Board) we remain available and continue sharing information on assistance and support with persons of concern.

We are reviewing our stockpiles in the country and the region for potential support with humanitarian assistance in Türkiye. The same is also done under OCHA coordination related to the needs of the impacted population in northern Syria.

In Syria

UNHCR is deeply saddened by the loss of life caused by this devastating earthquake. UNHCR expresses its deepest condolences to all affected and is already sending much-needed supplies to the affected areas and deploying colleagues for support.

UNHCR is also coordinating the response with other UN Agencies and humanitarian actors to deliver assistance and support to those in need in Syria.

UNHCR has temporarily suspended all non-essential activities in its community centres and community-based structures (including outreach volunteers and mobile teams). It will focus/redirect activities towards the earthquake emergency response. This will include the identification and prioritization of needs in affected areas and referrals.

Resources will also be redirected to ensure sufficient psychosocial support for affected persons, with particular attention to the most vulnerable including but not limited to children, people with disabilities and the elderly.

My family members are in the affected areas, what can I do?

If your family is in an area affected by the earthquake you can share the following guidelines and contact details:

  • Ensure your safety first, then check if anyone around you needs help.
  • Stay away from damaged buildings and power lines and follow the advice of local authorities.
  • Wait for the next aftershocks. Be prepared to take shelter if you feel an aftershock. Sit down for shelter, cover your head and neck with your hands and arms, and hold onto something sturdy.
  • If you are in a damaged building, go outside and move away from the building quickly. Do not enter damaged buildings.

For people in Turkiye:

  • If your mobility is limited, do not do anything that may endanger your life to get out. You can call the AFAD emergency line on 00905350456181. Please be aware that rescuers will try to reach you as soon as possible.
  • If you are stuck, try to make your voice heard by hitting the water, heater, and gas facilities or the ground. You can also call the AFAD emergency line on 00905350456181. To protect yourself, cover your mouth with your shirt.

The foreign call center (YIMER 157) can also be reached for assistance. The line is available 24/7 in seven languages (Turkish, Arabic, Persian, English, Russian, German and Pashto).

WhatsApp: +90 312 422 04 00. Telegram: @Yimer157bot

Previously imposed travel restrictions for persons under international or temporary protection in the areas (Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Malatya, Adyaman, Adana, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Kilis, Osmaniye and Diyarbakir provinces) affected by the earthquake have been lifted. The details are as follows:

  1. People can leave these provinces without obtaining a travel permit.
  2. Persons must go to the immigration management office in the province they are traveling to obtain a valid 90-day travel permit.
  3. Istanbul is the only province that does not accept individuals.
  4. If the persons registered in the earthquake-affected provinces are arrested by the law enforcers in other provinces, the law enforcers will send them to the relevant immigration management office of that province and subsequently the immigration management office will issue them a 90-day travel permit.

Important developments in visas and family reunification

Because of the earthquakes, you may have questions about returning to Türkiye or Syria, reuniting with family sooner or staying longer in the Netherlands. Until 9 March 2023, the IND (the Dutch immigration authorities) will deal more flexibly with requests for a return visa or an extension of a short-stay visa in some cases:

  1. Syrian nationals who are still in the procedure or have refugee status and want to travel to Türkiye (because of family or friends in need) will receive a return visa from the IND.  Temporarily- you will not have to pay a fee for this.
  2. In very distressing situations or medical emergencies, priority may be given to the family reunification procedure. For this, the regular emergency family reunification procedures apply.
  3. If you have family members or friends with a family reunification procedure pending, the period to collect their visas (mvv) can be extended in case the embassy is hard to reach. The deadline can be extended from 3 to 6 months.”

NOTE: The usual return policy for persons wishing to return to the country of origin still applies, and you may risk losing your legal status in the Netherlands.

More information on this can be found here.

Can I donate items to UNHCR?

Thank you for your willingness to support the people in the affected areas! Unfortunately, we cannot accept goods in the Netherlands.

UNHCR purchases relief items internationally on a large scale, where possible in the countries themselves to stimulate the local economy. This is more efficient than delivering relief goods donated to us.

The best way to offer support is to donate money.  You can donate via our website.

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