Turkey's earthquake aftermath: A tale of survival and displacement

Turkey's earthquake aftermath: A tale of survival and displacement
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Repeated displacement and unmet needs: The Hemi family's struggle in post-quake Turkey.

By Rojhat Abi

On February 6th, a devastating earthquake with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.6 hit the Maras of Turkey, affecting 11 provinces. In Diyarbakir (Amed), 407 people died and 902 were injured. Around 185,000 individuals were provided temporary shelters following the disaster. Thousands of quake-affected residents moved within the city, with hundreds living in container cities.

The Hemi family epitomizes the struggle from Kobanê. After escaping ISIS attacks in 2014, Ali Hemi sought refuge in Diyarbakır. Unfortunately, he lost his home during the February earthquake crisis. Ali, who has broken legs and relies on a cane, cannot work. The family currently living in Bitlis's Ahlat district is in a desperate situation. Two of their children work as seasonal laborers and cannot attend school.

Despite applying for aid, Ali Hemi reports receiving no help: "After the earthquake, we had to sleep in a school for several days. They denied us help because we were from Kobanê, even then. We came here to escape, but the earthquake destroyed our home. We still have received no aid. We couldn't bear being in Diyarbakır, so we moved to Ahlat, Bitlis. My children work in the fields here. My disability prevents me from working".

As winter approaches, the family's worries intensify. Hemi shares, "I don't know how we'll get through the winter. I struggle to care for my children. I can barely stand with two canes. This is the third time we've had to migrate. We've come to Ahlat, Bitlis. My daughters work in the fields, but it's barely enough to survive. My children can't even go to school. We need winter clothes firewood. We've lost everything."

This harrowing account underscores the ongoing challenges faced by earthquake survivors in Turkey. Many, like the Hemi family, continue to confront hardships compounded by displacement and the inadequacies of disaster response efforts. Their situation becomes even more dire as the cold season approaches, highlighting the urgent need for effective and compassionate aid and support.