“In the ruins of the historic city of Antakya today I met proud and brave people whose the past has been eradicated, whose present is full of suffering and whose future is uncertain”, António Vitorino said after a two-day visit to Türkiye, which included meetings with senior government officials.

I am in awe of IOM colleagues and our many partners who began responding within hours of the earthquake, despite being affected themselves.

“Now comes the long run”

“But now comes the long distance; stand in solidarity and action with Türkiye as it rebuilds and creating a new future for the millions whose lives have been torn apart,” added Mr. Vitorino.

He said the sacrifices made by the many “humanitarian heroes” who dug out so many would never be forgotten, “and one of the reasons I am here is to pay tribute and condolences to them, and especially to the families of three IOM staff who perished.

“Our teams overcame complex coordination and logistical issues, as well as personal tragediesto quickly get help to affected communities in Türkiye and northwestern Syria.”

Three days after the disaster, IOM was one of the first UN agencies to resume cross-border assistance, noted Vitorino, who visited a logistics hub near the border that has been critical to the response as a transit point for thousands of tons of aid being brought into northwestern Syria.

150 trucks and more and more

So far in the response IOM has sent over 150 aid vehicles across the border.

This is reported by the UN more than 500,000 in Syria have been left homeless of the earthquakes, and in Türkiye more than 1.9 million live in temporary accommodation, with 2.5 million children in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

A a total of 850,000 children from both countries are on the run, and UN emergency preparedness plans for both countries call for nearly $1.4 billion to cover the first three months of critical aid. More than five million across Turkey need life-saving help.

The 2023 response plan for Syria overall will require $4.8 billion, the largest humanitarian appeal currently active.

Mr. Vitorino met with Turkey’s Presidency of Migration Management at a government-run temporary housing center for the homeless, including the local community, migrants and some Syrians under temporary protection.

Debris of earthquake destroyed buildings on one of the central streets of the city of Antakya, Hatay.

IOM 2023/Enver Mohammed

Debris of earthquake destroyed buildings on one of the central streets of the city of Antakya, Hatay.

“We have lost everything”

Nawfal Melish, a Syria now lives in the centertold the IOM manager who has family used to live in Hatay and wanted for nothing.

“But now we have lost everything. I worked in a shop, but it was destroyed by the earthquake, just like my house, but now we are going to start a new life. We find this displacement harder than the firstwhen we had to leave Syria because of the war.”

On Friday, in the capital Ankara, Vitorino met with the head of the coordination center of the Turkish Office of Disaster and Emergency Management, Yunus Sezer, a government agency leading the effort.

“I was very impressed with the Turkish government’s disaster response in the face of an unimaginable disasterhe said, “and I am increasingly proud of the strong relationship that IOM has had with this country since our local office opened over 30 years ago.

Support to move forward

“We continue to provide our operational capabilities and experience to the government support them to move forward on the road to recovery”.

IOM’s appeal for $161 million to support efforts in Turkey and northwestern Syria is currently less than 30 percent funded.