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On 6 February 2023, at 4:17 a.m. local time, north-west Syria and south-east Turkey were devastated by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
According to estimates by the Syrian Ministry of Health on 08/02/2023, the death toll in north-west Syria has risen to 1262 dead and 2285 injured. The number is set to rise significantly due to the presence of hundreds of families under the rubble. Meanwhile, the number of displaced people exceeded 100,000 mainly in Aleppo, Lattakia, Hama, the outskirts of Idleb and Tartous. The state of alert has been announced in all public and private health facilities. Local media sources reported that mosques, churches and schools were opened to accommodate the affected people. On 6 February, the Ministry of Education announced the suspension of teaching in all schools in Syria until the end of the week. The government and the public have launched appeals through official and social media for assistance from the UN, the international community and the lifting of sanctions.
Many of the buildings already damaged by the crisis are at high risk of collapse. The earthquake occurred while a snowstorm is raging in the Middle East and temperatures, especially during the night, drop below zero.
This catastrophic event hits a country already tried by more than 11 years of civil war. Syria, even before the earthquake, was facing a multitude of challenges that make it one of the most complex humanitarian emergencies in the world.
In addition, the economic situation followed a continuous decline between lack of job opportunities and continuous depreciation of the local currency.
Due to these challenges, by 2023, 15.3 million people out of a total of 22 million Syrians are considered to be in need of humanitarian assistance.
It is in this context that the COOPI team has been working for more than 4 years, with an already stable presence in the Aleppo governorate, one of the most affected by the emergency, with Food Protection and Security activities through which it has provided psychosocial support, basic medical care, agricultural kits and shopping vouchers to the most vulnerable population groups affected by the Syrian crisis.
Already in the first hours after the earthquake, COOPI personnel were activated to support the local population affected by the event. It is estimated that in the city, inhabited by some 2 million citizens, at least 80,000 people were affected to varying degrees by the earthquake.
The first needs identified by the ground staff in the 18 public shelters set up by the local authorities range from food, to clothes, but also hygiene kits, for cleaning and for coping with the bitter Syrian winter. Mattresses, sheets, kits for children, women and the elderly are needed. There is a lack of medicines, materials and medical equipment to support the people housed in the reception centres.
The objective of the project is to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to the earthquake victim population, through monetary support activities - Multi Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA), i.e. unconditional cash transfers that can be used to cover basic needs, and the provision of winter essentials in Aleppo city, through distributions of non-food items (NFI), i.e. hygiene kits, blankets and sunlamps).
The intervention targets 365 earthquake-affected households in Aleppo city, of which 200 households will receive monetary support and 165 households will receive support in non-food items (NFIs).