Press releases

Press release: ShelterBox helping people affected by earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria

Crucial aid supplies; tents and thermal blankets; have arrived in the two countries

17 February 2023

Aid pallets being loaded onto a plane

Press release – 17 February 2023

Crucial supplies from the international disaster relief charity ShelterBox have arrived in Türkiye and Syria to help people affected by the devastating earthquakes that have claimed more than 40,000 lives across the two countries.

The Cornwall-based charity has an emergency response team in Gaziantep – a large city in southern Türkiye and one of many left devastated by the earthquakes. In the last 36 hours, more response team members have arrived in the city to bolster ShelterBox’s response efforts as the charity explores ways to scale up its response.

ShelterBox Response Team Lead in Türkiye, Sonja Hughes says: “Our tents have arrived in Türkiye on free flights by Turkish Airlines from Panama – where we had stock pre-positioned. We strategically pre-position aid all over the world to help get crucial supplies to disaster affected communities as quickly as we can.

“A truck of aid carrying thermal blankets has crossed the border into Syria and has reached our local partner, Bahar, who will be distributing our aid. We’re expecting more trucks of our aid to arrive in northern Syria in the coming days and weeks, containing more vital supplies.”

There are 4.6 million people in northwest Syria, and the majority (4.1 million) were already in need of humanitarian assistance before the earthquakes. Refugees and internally displaced people who had fled from conflict in Syria have been uprooted once more leaving them without shelter again. With nearly three million people already displaced by the war, communities are facing multiple threats, including harsh living condition, freezing temperatures and diseases like cholera.

Sonja adds: “The freezing temperatures are presenting an immediate risk to life to people who are too afraid to return home, have no home to go back to, or in the area desperately seeking news of missing loved ones.

“We’ll be getting winter coats to children affected by the earthquakes in Syria through our existing partner, ReliefAid, which will help families protect their children from icy conditions.”

Relief Aid is planning to distribute clothing in the coming days to collective centres and/or displacement camps.

ShelterBox has been working with Bahar and ReliefAid for a number of years as part of its response to the ongoing conflict in northern Syria.

Since arriving in Türkiye, ShelterBox’s response team has visited affected areas, where response efforts continue to find people under the rubble of collapsed buildings. The in-country team is being supported around the clock by ShelterBox teams in the UK and around the world, and a huge supply chain effort continues.

Head of Emergency Response at ShelterBox, Alice Jefferson says: “This is a hugely complex humanitarian response spanning two countries and one of the most challenging that ShelterBox and the international community have faced in the last decade.

“The numbers of people directly affected are numerically shocking – and we know that behind every statistic are people who need our help, including in very hard to reach, conflict affected regions.

“We are used to working in challenging environments and we are working with local authorities, partners, and Rotary, to make sure people affected by the earthquakes get the aid they need.”

The team is based in Gaziantep because this is where pre-existing humanitarian hubs were based and where ShelterBox anticipates being the best place to work from for its efforts in Syria and Türkiye. A well-coordinated response is vital, especially given how huge this crisis is, and being based in the city will help ShelterBox work out what aid to get to the affected regions and how it’s going to do it.

ShelterBox expects items like solar lights and mattresses to be needed too. Providing cash assistance could be an important element to the response too – giving people who have been left with nothing the flexibility to get what they need.

ShelterBox has an emergency fundraising appeal to help people affected by the earthquakes and other disasters around the world. For more information visit


For more information contact the press office at ShelterBox via [email protected].

Notes to Editors

  • Interviews available on request
  • Images available on request
  • B-roll – please note that the Syria content needs to be credited to ReliefAid (ShelterBox’s existing partner in northern Suria for its ongoing conflict response. The second folder contains archive content from ShelterBox’s conflict response in Syria, and its 2011 response to the Van earthquake in Türkiye.

About ShelterBox

ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and other essential items to families who have lost their homes to disasters. With operational headquarters in Cornwall, the charity also has 14 affiliate organisations worldwide.

The charity has been Rotary International’s project partner in disaster relief since 2012. ShelterBox has supported more than 2.5 million people since it was founded in 2000.