A United Nations Development Program (UNDP) official on Tuesday estimated that 1.5 million people in Türkiye have been left homeless by the recent earthquakes and some 500,000 housing units in the country will have to be rebuilt.
Louisa Vinton, the UNDP’s Türkiye resident representative, told an online press briefing that the country’s government had inspected around 70 percent of the buildings affected by the quakes. Of these, 412,000 housing units in 118,000 buildings have collapsed or need to be demolished completely.
She said that the amount of rubble that needed to be cleared was enormous, and that the UNDP was seeking to minimize the threat of hazardous waste.
According to Vinton, two weeks after the first quakes, there is reason to call this the largest natural disaster in Türkiye’s history.
She said that the government concluded the search and rescue phase for the first quakes on Sunday, and the last survivor was pulled from the rubble almost 300 hours after the quake.
Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer for the World Health Organization (WHO), told Tuesday’s press briefing that managing the risks of communicable diseases is now vital as several displaced people live in close quarters, sometimes with poor access to toilets and clean water.
“There is a heightened risk of respiratory illnesses, cholera, hepatitis A and measles,” she said.
In recent weeks, Türkiye’s southern Kahramanmaras province has been rattled by a series of earthquakes ranging from magnitude 6.4 to 7.7.
The quakes also hit parts of Syria. In total, an estimated 47,000 people have lost their lives in the two countries, according to media reports. ■