2023 SEMA / HelpAge International. Jindires, Aleppo area, Syria. The aftermath of the earthquake. A catastrophic earthquake struck Türkiye and Syria on 6 February 2023. Thousands died, and many more were left homeless without shelter and livelihood.

Start Network’s Statement on the Türkiye - Syria Earthquakes

Start Network members are actively coordinating to support communities impacted by the earthquakes that occurred in Türkiye and Syria early morning yesterday.

Mwikali Mutune


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One magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Ekinozu in Kahramanmaras Province in Türkiye, leaving widespread death and devastation at the epicentre and surrounding regions, especially in the northern part of Syria. 11 minutes after the first earthquake, a magnitude 6.7 aftershock occurred, followed by another 7.5 magnitude earthquake roughly 12 hours after the first seismic shock.

With humanitarian response efforts underway and a death toll of tens of thousands of people, Start Network members are exploring gap-filling measures that the Start Fund may be able to implement especially in Syria, a country that has endured years of conflict and whose recurring appeals for humanitarian assistance often go under-the-radar.

Since inception in 2014, the Start Fund has financed responses to 14 different earthquakes across 8 countries, disbursing £3.9 m to projects that have assisted communities on the front lines. Over the course of Start Network’s lifetime, our members have sub-granted approximately £600,000 to national partners in Syria.


Lucretia Puentes, Head of Start Funds at Start Network says:

“The severity of this crisis has galvanised humanitarian efforts, but there is an urgent need for funding to reach those at the forefront of lifesaving action – including local actors. Too often, humanitarian funding decisions are slow and opaque. Too often, those funds crowd out important local actors to the detriment of the response. Start Network members and local actors are working together to identify where the Start Fund could offer greatest value, recognising the critical need for rapid funding to support relief efforts.”

As humanitarian efforts continue coalescing globally, regionally and locally, Start Network hopes that responses will adapt beyond systemic barriers, be efficient, effective and community-centred.

Saving and rebuilding lives in Syria and Türkiye will only work if driven - from the start - by local leadership and action; based on community priorities and enabled by international capacity.
Christina Bennett, CEO at Start Network

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan describes this seismic event as the “biggest disaster” since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake (7.8 magnitude), which toppled 2,818 buildings.

According to Dr. Stephen Hicks, a seismology expert from University College London, less severe aftershocks are expected to continue within the coming months. 

Türkiye sits on the Anatolian Plate, characterised by two main faults (the East Anatolian Fault and the North Anatolian Fault), with one estimate claiming that 95% of the country’s land mass is prone to earthquakes.

Prior to this disaster, the most severe earthquake over the past three decades occurred in 1999 when a magnitude 7.4 earthquake along the Anatolian fault hit the northwest region of Türkiye. The seismic event was the largest to damage an industrialised area since the 1923 Tokyo and the 1906 San Francisco earthquakes (Erdick and Durukal 2002).

The Director General of the Syria National Centre for Earthquakes, Dr. Raed Ahmed, has told their state news agency that the Centre has been working to record aftershocks continuously, adding, “we recorded that there is a possibility of an increase in moderate tremors, and what happened since 12-18-2022 until this moment are unusual tremors that occurred for the first time...” According to most recent reports, the Earthquake death toll in Syria has now exceeded 6,600 people.