One year after the earthquake in Syria: COOPI's support for affected communities
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16-02-2024 | di COOPI

One year after the earthquake in Syria: COOPI's support for affected communities

One year ago, on the night between February 5th and 6th, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and the area of Northern Syria, causing extensive damage to the local populations. In Syria, the event exacerbated an already significant humanitarian and economic crisis, which had been caused by over 12 years of civil war.

COOPI's intervention

COOPI - Cooperazione Internazionale immediately intervened to provide assistance to the earthquake victims in Syria. Thanks to funding from the Italian Development Cooperation Agency (AICS), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and COOPI's First Emergency Fund, also fueled by private supporters, we have helped more than 200,000 people, providing immediate assistance and supporting the long-term recovery of affected communities. We distributed emergency kits and offered psychosocial support, ensuring access to water food, medical care and protection for women and children.

The situation remains critical and COOPI continues to operate, as Matteo Crosetti, Regional Coordinator Middle East, reports us:

Our initial efforts were concentrated in Aleppo, one of the worst affected areas by the earthquake, working in public shelters, which are schools, churches and mosques turned into shelters where displaced people found refuge.

There, our staff provided immediate support by distributing emergency kits containing various materials, such as blankets, hygiene products and torches, especially for women and children. In addition, we provided psychosocial support to people who had been shocked by the event, with a particular focus on children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities. We then started to distribute food: many frightened families had left their homes in a hurry, unable to take everything they needed with them. Subsequently, we extended our activities to Lattakia, also providing psychosocial support here to displaced people in public shelters.

We then launched initiatives to economically revive commercial areas that were still at a standstill after the earthquake, lacking vehicles, petrol and electricity. By involving the communities in re-establishing commercial activities, this project allowed us to restore income to those who had lost it due to the earthquake and bring support to the entire community, through the restoration of roads, sewage and sanitation services.

Our work is still being carried on because the situation in the country remains serious. According to our indicators, Syria keeps getting worse in humanitarian terms: the earthquake has accelerated this in some areas more than others, but the continuing crisis continues to affect the population throughout the country, particularly the most vulnerable groups.

We are still present in both Lattakia and Aleppo with protection activities and distribution of dignity kits, mainly supporting women, and working in schools to improve and rehabilitate affected schools and increase access to education. Finally, we are working to restore agricultural activity for self-consumption in the affected areas, and we continue to provide financial support to the most vulnerable sections of the population in Aleppo and Lattakia, to meet the countless needs that the population affected by the earthquake and crisis continue to have."

COOPI has been working in Syria since 2016 and is present in the areas of rural Damascus, Dara'a, Hama, Homs, Raqqa, Lattakia and Aleppo with protection education, food assistance and support for family-based agricultural production. These have been complemented by earthquake response activities with own, private and institutional funds.