Humanitarian effort in response to earthquake in Turkey and Syria 'could last for months'

An aid worker from the Republic of Ireland who's helping homeless families in Turkey has said the humanitarian effort there will last for months.

It comes as the death toll across Syria and Turkey has reached over 37,000 with little hope that many more people will be found alive beneath the rubble.

The rescue mission for survivors has now turned to one of recovery.

Kieran McConville, who works for Concern Worldwide, zoomed UTV from a camp in south-eastern Turkey, where around 150 families are sleeping in tents.

"This is not where you want to be keeping your family. There are children here, there are elderly people here - there's a lot of pressure on families," he explained.

"There will be health issues, no doubt, and that's why we have to try and sort out water and sanitation facilities as soon as we can to ensure that we don't have the kind of problems that we often see when we have poor conditions and people staying in camps like this."

Kieran has been helping survivors for five days. He's seen thousands of people sleep on the streets in darkness, suffering overnight lows of -12 degrees.

"People are sleeping in cars, people in tents, people are in government buildings that have been opened, some have left to the countryside to stay with relatives," he said.

"There are huge amounts of people who have the possibility of having nowhere to go for the foreseeable future, many of them will never be able to go back to their home."

The next challenge is to find permanent housing for survivors.

While many buildings have turned to rubble, others are still in tact but are unsafe to enter. In many cases families have opted not to return to buildings for fear that their home will collapse.

The scale of the damage and of the loss is hard to fathom.

Help has been sent from across the world to try and give survivors somewhere safe to sleep and food to eat. In Northern Ireland, donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal have reached £1 million in just four days.

The humanitarian effort across Turkey and Syria is predicted to continue for months to come.

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