The UN launched an appeal for $1 billion to help the victims of the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey that killed thousands of people and left millions more in desperate need of aid.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that the funds would provide humanitarian relief for three months to 5.2 million people.
The money would “allow aid organizations to rapidly scale up vital support,” including in the areas of food security, protection, education, water and shelter, he added.
“The needs are enormous, people are suffering and there’s no time to lose,” Guterres implored.
“I urge the international community to step up and fully fund this critical effort in response to one of the biggest natural disasters of our times.”
Turkey is “home to the largest number of refugees in the world and has shown enormous generosity to its Syrian neighbors for years,” Guterres said in his statement.
“Now is the time for the world to support the people of Türkiye — just as they have stood in solidarity with others seeking assistance.”
“We must stand” with the people in Turkey after the earthquake
Turkish people have experienced “unspeakable heartache,” the U.N.’s Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said in a separate statement announcing the flash appeal.
“We must stand with them in their darkest hour and ensure they receive the support they need,” added Griffiths, who heads the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
OCHA said in its statement that hundreds of thousands of people, including small children and elderly people, are suffering in freezing temperatures without access to shelter, food, water, heaters and medical care.
It added that some 47,000 buildings have been destroyed or damaged across Turkey, with thousands of people having sought refuge in temporary shelters.
Death toll from the earthquake in Turkey rises to more than 38,000
At least 38,044 people lost their lives after the 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes rattled the country’s south on Feb. 6, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) announced on Friday.
AFAD also reported that more than 81,000 people were injured following the tremors felt in 11 southern provinces.
Nearly 20 million people have been affected by the earthquakes.
A total of 29,160 search and rescue personnel from government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and international search and rescue teams have been deployed to the region.
The total number of personnel on site is 264,389.
After the deadly quakes, 626 out of 1,464 unaccompanied children were reunited with their families.