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The earthquake that rocked parts of Turkey and Syria on Monday has left devastation in its wake. As the rescue crews continue to pull victims of the natural disaster out of the rubble, and the death toll swells past 22,000, humanitarian aid agencies are rushing to support the effort. One such organization is Malteser International, the relief arm of the Order of Malta, a Catholic lay group, which is gathering donations to bolster its aid resources.
On Monday morning, February 6, an earthquake that registered 7.8 on the Richter scale sent waves of devastation through the two nations. On Wednesday afternoon, The Guardian Reports that the combined death toll had exceeded 22,750, with over 19,000 dead in Turkey alone. With some 6,500 buildings felled by the quake, leaving tens of thousands with injuries as well, the region is in dire need of assistance.
Malteser International was quick to respond, sending out a pledge of assistance within hours of the earthquake. According to a press release, its aid workers in the region have reported dire circumstances, which have especially affected those in refugee areas. Oliver Hochedez, head of Malteser International’s emergency relief department, said:
“Our colleagues in Gaziantep and Kilis tell us about the massive destruction caused by the quake there. Thankfully, our team is unharmed. An MI emergency relief team has already been sent to the region. Our local partners are in urgent need of support, especially in the refugee areas in the north of Syria, where hundreds of thousands of people are living in simple shelters and are now defenseless after the earthquake.”
The emergency team is coordinating first immediate measures and will then get urgently needed relief supplies on their way for people in need. The teams face unique challenges, as the disaster occurred during some of the coldest months of the year. Malteser International reported:
“Temperatures in the region are currently freezing and it is raining extensively. In the hospitals of partner organizations, the number of injured earthquake victims is increasing by the hour. So we have to provide help quickly,” says Hochedez.
Malteser International has long held a close bond with both nations. In Syria, the organization has supported health structures and water sanitation since 2012, and it has worked closely with both Syria and Turkey to care for refugees.
The emergency team is coordinating first immediate measures and will then get urgently needed relief supplies on their way for people in need. While Malteser International is a well-funded organization, the scope of the destruction has placed a high demand on its resources. To ensure continued support through this crisis, Malteser International has sent out a call for donations to anyone who would like to help its mission.