With Thousands of Buildings Destroyed by Earthquakes, Containers House Families and Physicians in Turkey

In Hatay, Turkey, more than 75,000 buildings were destroyed by earthquakes earlier this year. Since then, containers are providing space for pharmacies and health services, as well as housing, for people who have been displaced.

By Direct Relief Staff. Originally published on November 14, 2023 by Direct Relief. Photos by Ali Saltan for Direct Relief.

A physician examines a patient inside a primary healthcare center, housed in a container in Samandağ, Hatay, Turkey, on Oct. 25, 2023.

In February 2023, a series of large earthquakes leveled many parts of southern Turkey and northwestern Syria, killing tens of thousands and injuring exponentially more. More than nine months after the quakes, large swathes of the city landscape remain piles of rubble, and clean-up continues. In the city of Hatay, more than 75,000 buildings were destroyed beyond repair, according to the International Blue Crescent Relief and Development Foundation.

Since rebuilding will be a long process, many people who have been displaced from their homes have found temporary housing in pre-fabricated containers. More than 150,000 people reside in the containers, and become communities in their own right, housing families and others that may not have access to permanent housing for some time.

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In an effort to bring healthcare services to these areas, primary health centers have been set up in and among the containers. Doctors are practicing in the containers, but are financially responsible for outfitting the containers with medical supplies needed. Direct Relief recently committed $300,000 for medical equipment to support 58 primary health centers as they locally purchase needed items to better serve people.

Direct Relief staff recently spent time in Hatay, where health services continue to take place during the recovery phase. Since February, Direct Relief has provided more than $130 million in medical aid to Turkey and Syria as part of the earthquake emergency response.

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