Life interrupted: A story of heartbreak and anguish at every corner

Less than two weeks into the earthquake that literally shook some areas in Syria to the ground, the disastrous aftermath is affecting hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

As you drive from Damascus to Aleppo, the brutality of 12 years of conflict is apparent across every little town, or big city, along the way. Almost two weeks following an earthquake that shook communities across northern Syria and southern Türkiye, when you enter the city of Aleppo destruction can be seen everywhere, and people can no longer tell whether this is the doing of the conflict or the earthquake.

Ruins in Syria

Today, it is estimated that more than 40,000 people have lost their lives across Türkiye and Syria, and more than 180,000 people have been displaced in Aleppo alone. Tens of thousands of people have now taken to collective shelters and the streets to find safety, while some have returned to their damaged houses because they simply have nowhere else to go.

Ruins in Syria

The areas most affected were already impoverished and people were already often relying on assistance. After the earthquake, the needs are increasing rapidly, and people are feeling desperate for a solution. The earthquake has also disrupted access to essential services, leaving many people without access to clean water or electricity.

We lost everything. My shop was completely ruined, and my house was deemed unlivable. Now, I must watch as my home gets torn down and I have to rebuild a life from scratch.

Ahmed, a father of five who has been affected by the earthquake.

Ruins in Syria

After the earthquake, Ahmed turned some land he owned near-by to a make-shift collective shelter to help the people in his area find safety. “It was the only right thing to do. Most of the people in my area have been evacuated, many have lost their houses and have nowhere to go,” he said.


While Ahmed has provided a place for more than 20 people from his neighbourhood to stay, they need the basics – from clean water, to a change of clothes. “We were already in need before the earthquake. Now? Now, we need access to water for starters. We have not showered in ten days,” he added.

A place to survive

Ahmed’s story is mirrored across thousands of households in the city; people sleeping in the streets, in collective shelters, and even those lucky enough to have a warm place they can stay in. “The level of loss is unimaginable – almost every one I know has been affected somehow,” said Fouad*, a father we met at the doors of a collective shelter while trying to make his way into the overcrowded building in the hopes of getting his hands on blankets he can use to keep his family warm.

We are not sure how to overcome this when we no longer have anything, not even our legal documents.

Fouad*, one of the people affected by the earthquake in Aleppo

In front of ruins

The earthquake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, struck in the very early morning hours, catching the city off-guard and causing panic and chaos. “We barely had the time to flee and find safety in an open area near our house,” added Fouad. Now, he is trying to keep his wife and daughter warm while sleeping out in the open.

Ruins in Syria

In another part of the city, Fatima* found refuge in an even more heartbreaking place; a grave yard, making a bed between her two sons' graves. “I have nowhere else to go - I lost my two sons to the conflict, and could not think of any place else to go - at least here, I feel closer to them,” told us Fatma* as she pointed toward her building that was severely damaged during the earthquake.

I just want to feel safe again - we have been living in constant fear for years now.

Fatma*, an older lady who lost her house in Aleppo

Helping victims of the earthquake in Syria

These sombering tales are now the reality for tens of thousands of people across the city, who were already struggling to cope with the aftermath of a devastating conflict and displacement, and the earthquake added another layer of trauma and hardship. However, despite the challenges, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and different aid organisations are in the field, delivering life-saving assistance to those most in need.

You can help too

The worsening conditions in Syria and the growing needs of the people require the continued support of the international community more than any time before, to ensure that there would be hope for Aleppo and other areas affected to recover and rebuild.

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