More than six weeks since the earthquake that struck parts of Türkiye and Syria, claiming more than 50,000 lives, the situation in the region remains critical. Tens of thousands of buildings have been damaged or destroyed, and many people remain living in collective shelters.

On Monday (20 March), the international community will attend an International Donors’ Conference in support of the people in Türkiye and Syria, hosted by the European Commission and Swedish Presidency, in coordination with the Turkish authorities.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is urging donors to ensure that the UN’s Emergency Flash Appeal for Türkiye and Syria, calling for $1 billion and $397 million respectively, are fully funded, and that these funds reach humanitarians working on the frontlines of the crisis without delay.

This must be additional to scaling up funding for the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan which was only 49% funded last year, leaving a gap of more than $2.2bn that is urgently needed to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis across the country.

Tanya Evans, IRC Syria Country Director, says:

“Over a month since the earthquake, the situation in affected regions remains desperate. With many homes damaged or destroyed, many people are left with no choice but to sleep in overcrowded and under-resourced collective shelters. The fragile healthcare system is at breaking point, while millions of livelihoods have been decimated.

"As storms have battered the region over the past week and claimed at least 14 lives, people are finding themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of crises - simply trying to survive, rather than having a chance of starting their journeys towards recovery.  

"The people affected by this devastating earthquake are relying on donors meeting in Brussels to step up this week. They need to ensure that funding is available for life-saving items including food, shelter, warm clothes and clean water, as well as support to the already weak healthcare system including the provision of medicines and medical equipment. If they fail to do so, the most vulnerable will pay the price.”

Harlem Désir, IRC’s Senior Vice President, Europe, says:

“Even before this earthquake, some 15.3 million people - 70% of Syria’s population - needed humanitarian assistance, and this has only been compounded by recent events. Donors must urgently fund the country’s Humanitarian Response Plan, which was less than half funded in 2022. 

"That’s also why this week’s international donors conference is so important for the people of Türkiye and Syria. It is critical that donors fully fund the UN’s Emergency Flash Appeal for the earthquake response as quickly as possible, ensuring that these funds can quickly reach the wealth of local, national and international humanitarian NGOs working tirelessly on the frontline to meet people’s urgent needs.

"Our teams on the ground are very clear about what is needed now in order to meet the sky-high level of humanitarian needs: significant, immediate and flexible funding.”