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U.S. partners assist the Syrian people after earthquake
By Leigh Hartman
February 15, 2023

U.S. partners assist the Syrian people after earthquake

A member of the Syrian Civil Defence force, also known as the White Helmets, participates in search and rescue efforts in Jindayris, Syria, February 7. (© Rami al Sayed/AFP/Getty Images)


U.S.-supported partner organizations have rescued Syrians from the rubble of the devastating February 6 earthquake in Türkiye and Syria and are rushing food and other assistance to the people of Syria.

Syria Civil Defence, a humanitarian group also known as the White Helmets, has rescued more than 2,900 people from the wreckage, reuniting families. The White Helmets, a long-standing partner of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is also working to reopen roads blocked by wreckage.

In a February 6 call with Raed al Saleh, head of the White Helmets, USAID Administrator Samantha Power discussed how the United States can provide urgently needed assistance after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake leveled buildings and killed thousands of people in southeastern Türkiye and northern Syria. They also discussed the importance of keeping the Syria-Türkiye border open for aid to flow.

“We are all intently focused on supporting the response to the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, which has already taken the lives of” tens of thousands, Power said February 9.

The efforts of U.S.-supported partner organizations complement immediate U.S. assistance deployed to Türkiye after the earthquake, including a Disaster Assistance Response Team with search and rescue teams. The teams are equipped with rescue dogs and thousands of pounds of specialized equipment.

On February 9, the United States announced $85 million in emergency assistance for the earthquake response. The funding supports U.S. humanitarian partners and delivers urgently needed aid for millions of people in both countries.

The new funding builds on more than $15 billion in U.S. humanitarian assistance provided to the Syrian people since 2011.

(State Dept./S. Wilkinson)


Newly announced U.S. support will provide emergency food, shelter and winter supplies for families whose homes were destroyed, as well as clean water, hygiene products, health care services and trauma support.

Long-standing U.S. partners in Syria have already begun delivering aid to the Syrian people. The U.S.-supported Syria Recovery Trust Fund and its local partners, for example, have distributed 15,000 packages of bread per day, roughly 16 metric tons, to Aleppo after the earthquake.

The U.S. also supports the work of United Nations agencies and international humanitarian partners in Syria:

  • The World Food Programme is delivering food to tens of thousands of people affected by the earthquake.
  • The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is providing shelter, including tents and plastic sheeting, as well as thermal blankets, sleeping mats, and winter clothing to some of the estimated 5.3 million people in Syria who are homeless after the earthquake.
  • UNICEF is reuniting children with their families and providing access to safe drinking water, sanitation services and medical supplies.
  • The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is conducting emergency medical evacuations and providing first aid, food, water and shelter.

“In both Türkiye and Syria, the United States will remain committed to doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to provide necessary assistance to those impacted by these earthquakes,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a release February 9. “The United States will continue to support the people of Türkiye and Syria.”