Ricardo Martinez, logistical coordinator
This is Ricardo Martinez. I’m the logistical coordinator of the emergency unit in Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). And I’m about to leave for Turkey, for our response to the earthquake that happened in between Turkey and Syria.
If we want to have a good impact in the intervention, we need to have the full team. So all the profiles are included, and we have been able to find all the colleagues that are needed in this intervention: administration, finance, medical, of course, mental health, logistic, supply.
The sooner we get in touch with the local authorities, the sooner we will understand what their most acute needs are. And then we will know, we will see. We will coordinate with them. What is our added value in the intervention? The first 72 hours is search and rescue, the most critical part of the intervention, and in parallel the referral system, because there are a lot of wounded, there are a lot of people that got injured and they need their urgent surgical intervention.
Chronic diseases and mental health
In parallel, we have to identify these chronic diseases, as they are also collateral damage in this kind of interventions. And then mental health is another pillar of our intervention, because we know from experience that it’s crucial. So it’s important to start these activities in the very first moment. And then, more related to shelter and logistics, there will be so many people, they have lost everything, and they will need to be in good condition because the winter, as you know, it’s quite tough these days in this part of Turkey and Syria. And then we provide heating systems, energy, water, sanitation, hygiene.
So it’s going to take us more than expected because the roads, the highways have been damaged. So it’s going to be a challenge for us to get as close as possible to the epicenter of the intervention. And once we are there, we don’t know, we don’t know how long it’s going to take us to be able to do a good assessment in order to understand the most critical needs for the intervention. Probably access is going to be the first challenge, then supply. Supply is of importance, and we will need to identify as soon as possible the key places where we can get the supply in order to implement the intervention.
Michel Lacharité: Head of emergency desk
I’m Michel Lacharité, head of the emergency desk for Doctors Without Borders. The earthquake that struck the south of Turkiye was around the city of Gaziantep. We have some teams in Gaziantep coordinating the assistance in northwest Syria. The team is assessing the situation for the population, and what they are seeing at the moment is that everyone is in the streets. They are affected by the cold weather. So they are trying to see what is feasible to do for this one.
We have a very limited vision in terms of medical needs. We know that the two hospitals are affected by the earthquake. The authorities are doing blood bank collections to take care of the first patients of the day. We’re going to know more in the coming days. However, we can confirm that we are going to focus on shelter distribution, non-food items (NFI) distribution, blankets, cloths. And all this support in Turkiye will be done with our partner, the International Blue Crescent, with whom we worked in the last earthquake in Izmir in 2020.
Wounded in the streets
The situation in North Syria is very dramatic. We know that a lot of people are still living in very bad condition in precarious shelters. So fortunately, these people were not injured during the destruction of the shelters. But the majority of the wounded people are concentrated in the cities, and more in the northern part of the northwest of Syria, such as Al-Bab, Afrin, and Azaz. Doctors Without Borders is supporting at least eight hospitals to whom we gave medical kits to perform surgical traumatology. We gave them some blankets for the relatives of the patients. We have a burn unit in Atme City, and some medical staff from this hospital were detached to other hospitals, which perform trauma surgery.
In the first hours, our teams treated 200 wounded and recorded 160 deaths in Northern Idlib, Syria. Doctors Without Borders donated medical kits and provided medical staff to 23 health facilities across Idlib and Aleppo governerates. – Rappler.com
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