As the official death toll rises by the hour, residents, often with their bare hands, continue to search for survivors in the rubble of thousands building brought down by the powerful earthquake and multiple aftershoks. The quake has brought down thousand | © HI
Anis manages a HI 22-member team of physiotherapists and psychosocial support experts in North Syria. He describes the response provided by HI.
One week after the earthquake, we are now feel safe. For days, we were terrified by the aftershocks. They were perhaps more terrifying than the first earthquake itself.
The next days of the disaster, we couldn’t sleep. We stayed at night in our cars, in the street, because we were all afraid… There were fires in the street so that eople can get warm… The aftershocks are still happening and the people are still afraid and shocked.
In my town, some buildings collapsed. 25 people died. A lot of cities around mine are much more affected.
I saw so many collapsed buildings in the cities around and so many people in the shelter camps. They need food, blankets, oil…. They need everything. Most of people in the camps are women and children and older people. I do not know why we see so few men.
We went to three shelter centers yesterday to check if there were injured people. We found some cases but the vast majority of freshly injured people are in hospitals. In camps, we met vulnerable and weak people like elderly and children.
Most of the shelter camps consist in one collective tents and can gather dozens of families; the shelter camp is often only one huge tent. In one shelter, there was a safe space for children who were playing with old toys…
All these people leave there homes, they lost relatives…we can saw the sadness in the eyes of children…
Everyday there are new shelters, new coming people… We are everyday visiting new shelters centers and identify the need in addition to visit the hospitals … We work seven days a week…
At the hospitals, our staff provides rehabilitation sessions and psychosocial support since the very first day of the emergency. A lot of patients need wheelchairs, physiotherapy exercises... It is difficult for the team because of the huge number of injured people… The people were under the collapsed buildings for hours, for some for days… For a lot of them, the cases are very complicated.
To be honest, it is not the first time we see such a crisis. We have been under the war for more than 10 years now… But we are now under a disaster that seems bigger than us. We are overwhelmed by the number of the injured people.