The recent earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria has left millions of people without shelter, and the situation is dire for those who have been internally displaced as entire neighbourhoods and towns have been razed to the ground by the devastating seismic activity.
On top of the tragic loss of life, the loss of shelter, and most critically a safe place to call home - has devastating consequences for individuals and families as it further affects their emotional and psychological wellbeing after such a shock. However, on the physical side, this lack of shelter leaves people exposed to the elements especially at a time when the temperature is freezing, and without a secure place to store their belongings. Moreover it makes individuals vulnerable to the risks of disease and exploitation.
It goes without saying that shelter is one of the basic necessities for human survival, and it is our responsibility as a global community to ensure that everyone has access to safe and secure housing. It is not enough to simply provide tents as emergency, temporary housing, for those who have been displaced by the earthquake. We must provide them with a dignified and sustainable shelter that will enable them to rebuild their lives and communities.
One of the major challenges in providing shelter to refugees is the lack of resources and funding. The United Nations estimates that up to 5.3 million people have been left homeless in Syria and more than 1 million in tents and temporary shelters in Turkey. This is an enormous challenge that requires a coordinated and sustained international humanitarian effort.
The provision of dignified shelter is not just a matter of providing a physical structure. It is about creating a safe and secure environment that promotes the wellbeing and dignity of refugees. Dignified shelter is a fundamental human right and is essential for the physical and emotional health of those who have been forcibly displaced - whether they are IDPs (internally displaced people) unable to reside in their usual location due to natural disasters like earthquakes or typhoons, or are fleeing violence, war and civil unrest like the millions of refugees who fearing for their lives cross borders seeking protection.
Yet this is no manmade disaster, this is one of the most powerful earthquakes on record and nature does not recognise boundaries and cultures. We can all recognise the devastation that this tragedy has wrought on these two nations and our humanity is being called upon to help find solutions. In this critical moment it is essential that we come together as a global community to support the millions of people who have been impacted in Turkey and Syria. We can all play a role in providing shelter and hope for those in need. This is a humanitarian crisis that requires a swift and decisive response from all of us.
Organisations such as Gimme Shelter Global and Hopeandspace are working tirelessly to find solutions which will provide dignified shelter to those in need. We need to think in new, innovative ways and to act collectively in order to better reach our humanitarian goals. We know that together - with the support of our donors and collaborators - we can make a significant difference and help those in need rebuild their lives.
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