One year after the devastating earthquake in Turkey and northern Syria, people today remember the tens of thousands of dead. In the hardest-hit southeastern Turkish province of Hatay, residents planned to gather at 4:17 a.m. (local time) – the time when the first major quake hit the region a year ago. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected in Kahramanmaras province, which was also hit by the quake.

On February 6th, an earthquake of magnitude 7.7 hit southeastern Turkey early in the morning, and another quake of magnitude 7.6 followed in the afternoon of the same day. According to government figures, more than 53,000 people died in Turkey alone. Exact information on the victims from neighboring Syria, which is torn by civil war, is difficult to determine. According to observers, more than 6,000 people died there.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had promised to quickly rebuild the region. But the local people are still suffering greatly from the consequences of the quake. They complain about a lack of help, such as food or clothing donations. In a container village in Karacay, residents say they are dependent on support from international aid organizations. The water supply also keeps breaking off, people from the small town of Kirikhan report.

700,000 people housed in containers

According to official figures, almost 700,000 people are housed in containers in Turkey. Although Ankara officially states that tent cities have been dismantled, an unknown number of people still live in tents. According to Save the Children, one in three children who became homeless in the earthquake region in Turkey still lives in emergency accommodation today. The children’s rights organization also points out that children in both Turkey and Syria struggle with fears and psychological problems.

Because of the great destruction, many people in the region have become unemployed and therefore destitute. At the same time, the local construction sector is booming and is attracting large numbers of workers from all over the country to the region. Erdogan traveled to the region at the weekend and publicly inaugurated new buildings. He will travel to the region again for the anniversary.

The president and his government were initially sharply criticized after the earthquake. For example, they were accused of errors in crisis management. The focus also came on so-called black buildings that were built illegally and then later legalized by the government. This did not affect Erdogan’s popularity; he was re-elected as president in May last year after 20 years in power. Local elections are coming up at the end of March.