Up to 5.3 million in Syria may be homeless after quake: UN

Syrian rebel fighters setting up tents to temporarily host people who have become homeless days after a deadly earthquake hit Turkey and Syria. PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT - Up to 5.3 million people in Syria may have been made homeless by the devastating earthquake which rocked the region this week, a United Nations official said on Friday.

“As many as 5.3 million people in Syria may have been left homeless by the earthquake,” the Syria representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sivanka Dhanapala, told a press briefing.

He said the UN estimated that 5.37 million people affected by the quake will need shelter assistance across the country.

“That is a huge number and comes to a population already suffering mass displacement,” he said.

“For Syria, this is a crisis within a crisis. We’ve had economic shocks, Covid and are now in the depths of winter.”

Quake survivors have flocked to camps set up for people displaced by nearly 12 years of war from other parts of Syria.

Many lost their homes or are too scared to return to damaged buildings.

Nearly 23,000 people have died across Turkey and Syria because of the quake, one of the worst disasters to hit the region in around a century.

The quake killed more than 3,300 people in Syria, according to health ministry figures and a rescue group.

The conflict in Syria started in 2011 with a crackdown on peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers and global militants.

Nearly half a million people have been killed, and the conflict has forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes, with many seeking refuge in Turkey. AFP

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