As the death toll rises beyond 22,000 with tens of thousands injured after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Türkiye and Syria on 6 February, Education International has issued an urgent action appeal calling member organisations to show solidarity and financial support to education unions engaged in relief actions on the ground.
Recent estimates from the World Health Organization state that up to 23 million people could be affected by the disaster.
“We are in contact with our members in Syria and Türkiye who have reported terrible devastation, countless loss of lives, and serious damage to schools and neighbourhoods. We have shared our condolences and firm commitment. We assured them that Education International and its members are mobilizing to show solidarity now and as they rebuild their lives, schools, and communities,” said Education International General Secretary David Edwards.
In Syria, the Union of Teachers in Northeast Syria (UTNES) affiliated to Education International reported that many union offices in the northern and eastern Syrian regions are severely damaged, with some destroyed and now out of service, as is the case for union branch offices in Aleppo, Shahba, Kobani, Manbij and Tabqa. These buildings need reconstruction or support to be functional again – need for furniture and basic requirements such as laptops or printers.
UTNES also informed that 28 schools have been destroyed and many teachers have lost their homes in the areas of Aleppo and Al-Shahba.
In Türkiye, Education International member organisation Eğitim Sen, together with the national trade union confederation KESK, set up a crisis desk shortly after the devastating earthquakes and started an aid campaign for members affected by the earthquake.
Eğitim Sen branches are collecting items needed in case of humanitarian emergency, such as tents, heating, hygiene materials and basic food products, sending them to and distributing them in areas affected by the earthquake.
The European Trade Union Committee for Education, Education International, also issued a statement in solidarity with Eğitim Sen, KESK and all the people affected by this catastrophe.
Education International will continue to liaise and support members as they work to rebuild their communities.