UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for international support for the people of Türkiye in the wake of massive earthquakes.
"Now is the time for the world to support the people of Türkiye -- just as they have stood in solidarity with others seeking assistance," Guterres said in a statement on the launch of a humanitarian appeal for Türkiye.
Türkiye is home to the largest number of refugees in the world and has shown enormous generosity to its Syrian neighbors for years, he noted.
The United Nations is launching a humanitarian appeal worth 1 billion U.S. dollars for the people of Türkiye suffering from the devastating earthquakes. The funding, which covers a three-month period, will assist 5.2 million people and allow aid organizations to rapidly scale up vital support for government-led relief efforts in a number of areas, including food security, protection, education, water and shelter, he said.
"The needs are enormous, people are suffering and there's no time to lose. I urge the international community to step up and fully fund this critical effort in response to one of the biggest natural disasters of our times," said Guterres.
About a quarter of the 1 billion dollars will be used to provide emergency shelter and non-food items. Other priorities include food security and livelihoods; health and nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; early recovery and debris removal, and multipurpose cash and social protection, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the flash appeal.
The earthquakes and aftershocks have caused catastrophic devastation, with at least 9.1 million people in the 11 hardest-hit provinces likely to have been directly impacted, said OCHA.
By Wednesday, nine days after the earthquakes, more than 35,400 people in Türkiye had lost their lives and over 105,500 people were injured, said OCHA, citing figures from the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).
The earthquakes hit communities at the peak of winter, leaving hundreds of thousands of people, including small children and the elderly, without access to shelter, food, water, heaters and medical care in freezing cold temperatures, said OCHA.
Over 47,000 buildings have been destroyed or damaged and more than 196,000 people had been evacuated from quake-hit areas by Tuesday, according to the AFAD.
Essential services, including schools, hospitals and other medical, maternity and educational facilities, have been damaged or destroyed by the earthquakes, with children and women particularly impacted. Only one in seven family health centers remains functional, according to preliminary assessments by health actors. Over 200,000 pregnant women who need access to maternal health services were living in affected areas and will give birth under the most difficult circumstances, according to the UN Population Fund.
Türkiye hosts the largest refugee population in the world. In the 11 provinces impacted by the earthquakes, there live more than 1.74 million refugees, said OCHA.