A GIZ employee sits with a boy and his mother in a kindergarten.
©GIZ/Beytullah Bayar


Finding hope and purpose again: support for people in Türkiye’s earthquake region

War, displacement and earthquakes have placed a huge strain on people in the region. GIZ is offering them psychosocial counselling.

In February 2023, two major earthquakes shook southeastern Türkiye and northern Syria. Around a year later, more than 700,000 people in Türkiye are still living in temporary container settlements. This week, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Nurgadi, a town in the region: ‘The families have often been dealt a double blow: firstly, because they had to flee their homes in Syria, and secondly, because they have been hit by a major earthquake here,’ he said. Around two thirds of the more than three million people who came to Türkiye to escape the war in Syria found refuge in the area hit by the earthquakes. The region must not be forgotten, Steinmeier warned.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is promoting the psychosocial stability of refugees and the population of the host communities. As Katharina Montens, head of the project on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), explained: ‘Many people cannot grasp what is happening to them after such traumatic experiences. One of our clients has memory gaps, panic attacks and a fear of enclosed spaces as a result of the earthquake.’ Shopping, going to see a doctor, taking care of administrative formalities – all these things are impossible. ‘Talking about it was a very important way for her to understand that she had not gone mad,’ Montens continued.

Overwhelming solidarity

Educating people about mental illnesses and their symptoms is the first step. After that, psychologists, social workers and doctors work with the people affected to help them cope with their fears and find new hope and purpose in their lives.

GIZ has been offering psychological counselling and treatment since back in August 2021 and has reached more than 12,000 people. More than 5,000 people have received psychosocial support in the earthquake regions since February 2023.

‘The solidarity immediately after the earthquake was overwhelming,’ said Montens. Yet the situation places great strain on the helpers too, including psychologists, doctors and social workers. They, too, are affected by the earthquake and are also constantly confronted with the traumatic experiences of their clients. GIZ also offers the helpers psychological support and supervision.

Additional information


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