The environmental and demographic impact of the Kahramanmaraş earthquake on Syrian refugees in Türkiye

Disasters and emergencies have been a keen area of interest amongst geographers, engineers, sociologists, anthropologist and psychologist for over 65 years. A traditional focus has been on the psychological impact on those who have been affected, whereas recent research suggests that impacts can’t be described without considering pre-existing conditions, such as systemic injustices and inequalities. This research aims to understand the true impact of the earthquakes of 6th February 2023, on Syrian refugees living in Kahramanmaraş, one of Turkiye’s most severely affected cities. Since 2011, around 2 million Syrians have sought safety in Turkiye to escape Syria’s civil war, of whom approximately eighty-five percent were living in the worst affected areas, impacting them disproportionately in many ways. This second devastating event following on from a decade of war, loss and exile, has been catastrophic, with renewed loss, including the deaths of loved ones and newly rebuilt community social support systems. Using qualitative research methods, this study aims to answer four key questions: How has the earthquake affected living conditions for Syrian refugees in Türkiye? How has the earthquake impacted the sense of community belonging of Syrian refugees? How has the earthquake affected the wellbeing of Syrian refugees? What strategies were beneficial in overcoming impact of the earthquake on Syrian refugees?

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