As families slept in the early hours of February 6, a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook communities across Türkiye and Syria. Just six hours later, another massive, 7.5-magnitude quake rocked the same region. The two intense earthquakes and continual aftershocks leveled cities, killing more than 40,000 people and leaving tens of thousands more injured and at least one million people displaced.
José and the WCK Relief Team were on the ground shortly after the earthquakes. Arriving in Adana, our team quickly identified restaurant partners able to start cooking immediately, while at the same time beginning to set up a WCK Relief Kitchen. Initially providing meals for five shelters in Adana that have since closed, we are now preparing to support 70 new shelters opening for families evacuated from across the region.
At the same time, it became clear to our scouting teams throughout the region that the scale of need is immense. The earthquake impacted several major cities and many smaller communities, many of which can be hours away from other population centers. Damage is evident all throughout central and southern Türkiye and northern Syria.
To ensure we could get meals to families in impacted areas, we established regional teams capable of reaching communities and meeting their unique needs. Since then, we have partnered with more than 25 restaurants across impacted provinces to provide more than 900,000 meals in the country.
The ongoing conflict in Syria makes it complex for WCK teams to operate at the speed and scale we usually do. Still, we were able to reach hard-hit towns in the country by Sunday.
In partnership with IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and Gift of the Givers—who we worked with in South Africa—we have delivered more than 30,000 meals, most of which were prepared by local restaurants. With WCK support, Gift of the Givers is scaling its operations from a couple hundred meals a day to 3,000. These meals are prepared in Türkiye and are delivered to a hospital in Syria.
Meals have been delivered to families and first responders in the towns of A’zaz, Afrin, and Jindires and our team is working with local partners to continue increasing the number of meals we deliver each day. In order to scale operations, IHH is establishing a kitchen just across the border in Türkiye from which food will be distributed to communities in Syria. Additionally, alongside IHH, we are distributing food kits at refugee camps. Kits include bulk dry goods for families able to cook for themselves.