GENEVA: Over 23 million people could have been affected by the massive earthquake that ravaged Turkiye and Syria, the WHO warned on Tuesday, promising long-term assistance.

“Event overview maps show that potentially 23 million people are exposed, including around five million vulnerable populations,” the World Health Organisation’s emergencies officer Adelheid Marschang said.

“Civilian infrastructure and potentially health infrastructure have been damaged across the affected region,” she said.

The WHO “considers that the main unmet needs may be in Syria in the immediate and mid-term,” Marschang told the WHO’s executive committee in Geneva.

She spoke as rescuers in Turkiye and Syria braved freezing cold, aftershocks and collapsing buildings, as they dug for survivors buried by a string of earthquakes that killed more than 7,000 people.

“It is now a race against time,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding the agency would “work closely with all partners to support authorities in both countries in the critical hours and days ahead, and in the months and years to come.”

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2023

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