The full extent of the earthquake catastrophe in the Syrian-Turkish border region is only gradually becoming clear. In Syria alone, 8.8 million people are affected, wrote the deputy UN representative for Syria Najat Rochdi on Twitter on Sunday - around two weeks after the quake. "The majority of them are likely to need some form of humanitarian assistance."
The number of reported deaths remained almost unchanged on Sunday compared to the previous day. The Turkish civil protection agency Afad counted 40,689 dead, 47 more than the day before. In Syria, around 5,900 deaths have been counted in connection with the tremors. The number is updated less frequently.
600 schools destroyed in Syria
The disaster hit the region hard in many ways. It is difficult to foresee what the consequences will be for students and the classroom. Yasmine Sherif, director of the UN Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund, told Al-Jazeera TV that 600 schools had been destroyed in Syria alone. The fund is expected to provide $7 million in emergency grants to help children in Syria continue to have access to education.
Some rescue operations on site, where clean-up work has also begun, were coming to an end over the weekend. For example, a search and rescue team from Qatar ended its two-week mission in southern Turkey, as reported by the Qatari news agency QNA. The Turkish civil protection agency Afad announced on Sunday that the search work in nine of the eleven affected provinces had ended. Only in Kahramanmaras and Hatay will the search continue for victims, Afad chairman Yunus Sezer told journalists in Ankara.
It is estimated that more than 1.2 million people have left the affected region in Turkey. More than a million people are currently being temporarily housed in shelters, Sezer said.
US Secretary of State Blinken flew to the hard-hit Turkish province of Hatay on Sunday and is meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to get an idea of the situation. At the Turkish air base Incirlik, he also visits the area where aid is being prepared for transport, the State Department said. A meeting with affected families and search and rescue teams is also planned. Tons of aid came into the country via Incirlik, including some from Germany.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator for Syria: Haven't seen the worst yet
In Syria, the situation was devastating for many people even before the earthquake. Bombardments and fighting during years of civil war, a serious economic crisis and often hardly any public services have made the country a focus for humanitarian aid workers. According to the UN, more than 15 million people needed some form of assistance even before the earthquakes.
And about two weeks after the tremors, not everyone in north-west Syria has received emergency aid. "We are still at the beginning and have not yet seen the worst," Muhannad Hadi, the UN emergency aid coordinator responsible for Syria, told dpa. So far, for example, around 60,000 people have been supplied with water and around 13,000 earthquake victims with tents. According to the UN, around 40,000 households are currently homeless.
Since the disaster, more than 140 trucks carrying UN aid have traveled from Turkey to rebel-held north-western Syria. There, more than 9,000 buildings were completely or partially destroyed, leaving at least 11,000 people homeless. According to the UN, those affected most urgently needed accommodation such as tents.
Despite reports to the contrary in the meantime, the missing professional soccer player Christian Atsu was also found dead on Saturday. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Christian Atsu," the Turkish Football Association wrote on Twitter. The Ghanaian died under a high-rise building in the Hatay province, which was particularly badly hit by the tremors.