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Syria earthquake brings extreme economic hardship in Aleppo

Syrians forced to borrow money as earthquake brings extreme economic hardship in Aleppo
2 min read
20 February, 2023
Syrians have had to borrow money to afford essentials following this month's devastating earthquakes in neighbouring Turkey.
Thousands of Syrians lost their families, homes and livlihoods following the earthquakes [Getty]

Residents of northwest Syria are borrowing money to buy essentials following this month's devastating earthquakes in neighbouring Turkey, which killed tens of thousands of people, destroyed homes and offices, and wiped out livelihoods.

Around 90 percent of Syrians surveyed by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said they had to borrow money due to the earthquakes, which impacted the living standards of all respondents.

The survey includes respondents in Idlib and Aleppo provinces whose ability to generate income worsened due to the earthquakes.

"People in northwest Syria were already in a dire situation, even before this earthquake. Not only do these needs still exist, but our assessment shows that they have clearly been made much worse by this devastating earthquake," said Tanya Evans, Syria country director for the IRC, in a statement.

"Household finances were heavily impacted with nearly 90% of people surveyed stating that they had to borrow money due to the earthquake." 

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The survey also found that 70 percent of respondents were food insecure with money, clothes and household supplies were top priority needs.

Equally concerning, one in three people said they had no access to medical care while more nearly three-in-four Syrians said money was an issue in getting treatment. On average, families had to travel for two-and-a-half hours to reach medical facilities.

The IRC said it will do what it can to assist those in need and the assessment will help the NGO cater to the needs of Syrians affected by the 6 February earthquakes.

"In response to the assessment, particularly the barriers and distance to accessing health care, our mobile health clinics have been expanded and are currently treating an average of 200 people per day and providing a key lifeline to those who are facing difficulties in accessing healthcare," said Evans.

"With our partners, we are also providing essential medical support through 17 healthcare facilities, including two hospitals, which serve around 2.5 million people."

The IRC has called on the international community to do all it can to assist those in need.

"People have gone back to how it was years before, in need of shelter, financial support, psychological assistance and livelihoods to restart their life," said Hamed, whose name was changed to protect their identity, the economic, recovery, and development implementation manager at the IRC. 

"The area affected by the earthquake was already home to large populations of internally displaced persons. Now we need to ensure that those previously displaced by conflict, plus people newly displaced by this disaster receive much-needed assistance."