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UK disability charity launches emergency response as devastating earthquakes kill and injure thousands in Turkey and Syria

Press Release | London, 7th February 2022, 06:00 GMT

As the number of casualties continues to rise, there is an urgent need for rehabilitation services to prevent injuries becoming permanent disabilities, says disability charity Humanity & Inclusion UK.

Overnight, and again in the last few hours, two devastating earthquakes with a 7.9 and 7.5 magnitude, hit South-eastern Turkey and South-western Syria, causing countless deaths and serious injuries.

Reuters news agency reports that the combined death toll in Turkey and Syria now stands at more than 3,000 people, with more than 12,000 wounded. With many trapped beneath the rubble, reports are warning that these figures will likely rise further.

"Thousands of people have been injured. They have lost everything and are traumatised by the terrible earthquake and the series of aftershocks," explains Myriam Abord-Hugon, HI's Syria program director. "It is currently winter in the affected region and people are facing cold, rain and bad weather after losing their homes and belongings. There is an urgent need to provide them with aid."

Humanity & Inclusion UK (HI) has launched an emergency appeal to raise funds to support injured and disabled people affected by the earthquakes. Already present in the region, HI teams are preparing emergency actions including physical rehabilitation, psychological support and the provision of mobility aids.

"From our previous experience, we expect a huge need for rehabilitation," says George Graham, Chief Executive of Humanity & Inclusion UK. "There are thousands of injured people and many of these injuries can worsen or turn into permanent disabilities if people do not receive appropriate rehabilitation services such as physiotherapy and prosthetic fitting.

HI teams will provide physical and functional rehabilitation services to people injured by the earthquake, so that they can regain mobility and prevent the development of long-term disabilities.

HI will also provide psychological first aid to those affected by the disaster. Individual support sessions will be provided and a mobile team will be sent to the region.

"We know from responding to disasters in other countries that one of the heaviest legacies of this earthquake will be its psychological impact. Surviving an earthquake can be a deeply traumatising experience - and it will be especially so for people who have already endured a decade of war in Syria. Psychological first aid will be an essential component of the emergency response," says George Graham, Chief Executive of Humanity & Inclusion UK.

In addition, in order to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people, HI will ensure that people with disabilities and older people are at the heart of its response. The charity will organise distributions of mobility aids (such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers) and will work with other NGOs to ensure that the specific needs of vulnerable people are taken into account.



HI’s spokespeople are available for interview.

  • George Graham, HI UK’s Chief Executive
  • Myriam Abord Hugon, HI Syria Program Director
  • Saovany Lavigne, Area Coordinator North-Syria programme

For interviews, please contact Rand Odeh, UK Media Officer on +44 (0)7535 024 895 or [email protected]

Humanity & Inclusion has launched an Emergency Appeal to support injured and disabled people affected by the earthquake:

HI’s activities in Syria

HI has been present in the region since 2012. In May 2012, HI launched its response to the Syrian crisis by initiating operations in neighbouring countries - Lebanon and Jordan. The organisation then developed activities in Syria from November 2012.

Today, HI’s team in northern Syria carries out physical rehabilitation activities as well as psychosocial support to disabled and injured people. These activities include the provision of mobility aids and fitting services (prosthetics and orthotics).

HI also conducts demining operations and manages risk awareness campaigns among the population to prevent accidents caused by explosive remnants of war.

About Humanity & Inclusion

  • Humanity & Inclusion (HI) was founded in 1982 as Handicap International to orthopaedically fit thousands of landmine amputees on the Thai-Cambodian border.
  • There are now eight national associations, including HI UK which was established in London in 2000.
  • The charity works in 60 countries in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster supporting disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve living conditions and promote respect for dignity and fundamental rights.
  • HI has long experience responding to earthquakes, including the massive disasters in Haiti and Nepal, both of which resulted in large numbers of amputees.
  • In 2018 the organisation changed its name to Humanity & Inclusion but is still known by its original title in some countries. · To donate to HI UK, visit, call our Supporter Care team on 0330 555 0156 to donate by credit or debit card, or send a cheque payable to "Humanity & Inclusion UK" to: Humanity & Inclusion UK, 9 Rushworth Street, London, SE1 0RB.

Contact our
UK Press Team

Marlène Manning, Media Officer
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +44 (0)7934 60 29 61
Tel.: +44 (0)870 774 3737