Saturday, June 10, 2023

Türkiye, Syria quake response continues, food security threat rising

Almost two months after deadly earthquakes struck Türkiye and northern Syria, a large-scale humanitarian operation is underway for which funding is still desperately needed, the UN Humanitarian Affairs coordination office (OCHA) said on Friday.

OCHA Spokesperson Jens Laerke, told reporters in Geneva that the current phase was still “a humanitarian emergency where we look at, ‘What do the survivors need? How can we support those who have survived this devastating earthquake?’”

Help for millions in need In Türkiye, where over nine million have been directly affected, the UN and partners have been supporting the Government-led response, reaching some four million people with basic household items and almost three million people with food assistance.

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More than 700,000 people have received support with shelter and living space, such as tents, special “relief housing units”, repair toolkits and tarpaulins.

The UN has also supported the Ministry of Health with 4.6 million vaccine doses, mobile health clinics and medicines.

Displaced persons’ camps flooded in Syria In Syria, where some 8.8 million people have been affected by the earthquake, heavy rainfall in the northwest is causing more hardship for displaced families, flooding camps and destroying thousands of tents. At least 50 displacement sites have been flooded.

The UN and partners have been providing emergency shelter, food, water, sanitation and hygiene items. OCHA reports that over a hundred schools in the heavily-affected governorates of Aleppo, Lattakia and Hama are still being used as collective shelters.

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A fifth of food production lost Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Friday that more than 20 per cent of Türkiye’s food production has been damaged by the earthquake, which impacted 11 key agricultural provinces.

The earthquake-affected region is known as Türkiye’s “fertile crescent” and accounts for almost 15 percent of the country’s agricultural income. More than one-third of the people in the impacted areas rely on agriculture for their livelihood and are now struggling to make ends meet.

Saving the next harvest FAO has been providing cash assistance to farmers and helping them rehabilitate their farms. But crucial deadlines for securing future crops are looming, and the agency says fertilizer shortages will make it hard to sustain food production.

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“The planting season deadline is approaching. We need to urgently support our farmers by providing fertilizers and seeds,” said FAO Subregional Coordinator for Central Asia and Representative in Türkiye, Viorel Gutu. “This is our only chance to maintain crop production levels this year.”

The agency stressed that support was urgently needed to “prevent a national food access and availability crisis” in Türkiye and mitigate “soaring” food prices.

(The credit for all the inputs for this story goes to United Nations.)


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