• Olga Borzenkova | Communications Officer, IOM Türkiye

‘‘We were so happy!” Fifty-three-year-old Necat has been living in Antakya, Hatay, all her life. She knew the city like the back of her hand – an old city centre with narrow streets, bustling markets, and charming old buildings, the river bringing much-needed breeze from the invisible but nearby sea in summer.  

She remembers how people from all faiths and cultures lived together harmoniously, and sighs “but my beauty, my beloved Hatay, is gone now.” 

Today she lives in a tent one hundred metres from her heavily damaged house that is now unsuitable to live in and too dangerous to enter.  

At 4:17 am on February 6 a devastating earthquake rocked the city to its core. Now the ancient city lies in ruins.  

Necat, like thousands of other people in Antakya, was sleeping in her apartment when the first quake hit. She could feel the building shake and hear it creak and moan. The sound was deafening as the walls shook and objects fell to the floor. One-minute tremors seemed to go on forever, but she managed to get out safely, leaving all her belongings and treasured memories behind.  

A man prays in front of temporary shelters set up for people who have lost their homes in Hatay. Photo: Emrah Özesen/IOM 2023

“I could not save anything… anything. Not even a blanket nor a plate! Nothing!” recalls Necat with tears in her eyes, showing us her building, just across the lawn. It leans forward, cracked and crumbled, threatening to tumble onto the grass at any moment.  

Initially Necat tried to find a new home in Alanya and Antalya on the west coast but her heart pulled her back to her dearest home place.  

Quake damage in the centre of Hatay. Photo: Emrah Özesen/IOM 2023

She, and other members of her community received USAID-donated blankets and kitchen sets to help them sleep through the cold nights and cook some hot food. Now her hopes are limited to being given a shipping container home, where she could do simple things; shower, use her own toilet, cook, sleep.  

IOM Türkiye’s teams closely coordinate with the Government of Türkiye at national and local levels to help people like Necat. IOM utilizes its supply chain and logistics capacity to deliver donated and IOM-procured aid to its national partners working on the ground in all affected provinces.  

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities