A woman sits in front of a large pile of debris in the city center of Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey, [Courtesy of Yomiuri Shimbun]
On February 6, 2023, a powerful earthquake devastated vast areas of southern Turkey and northwest Syria. At least 15.73 million people in Syria and Turkey have been impacted by the disaster, with over 55,000 dead and nearly 130,000 injured. The earthquake has also forced millions of people to leave their homes, mainly Syrians and other foreigners living in the affected areas.
In the aftermath of this catastrophe, temporary travel permissions were granted to refugees, allowing them to relocate to safer Turkish states. This swift action was an essential first step towards mitigating the crisis.
Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) have been on the frontline of addressing this issue since it emerged. Recognizing the urgent need for housing and mobility for displaced Syrians, JHR scheduled a meeting with civil society members in June 2023 to deliberate on these pressing matters.
To further amplify the voices of those affected, JHR launched its ninth round of journalist grants. These grants are aimed at covering the repercussions of this disaster, focusing on housing rights and freedom of movement issues. They serve as a call to action for journalists and media organizations to engage in critical discussion about these sensitive topics.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many journalists have produced written and visual reports, as well as data journalism pieces, highlighting possible solutions to prevent the exacerbation of legal and human rights issues arising from this disaster.
As a result of media mobilization efforts by JHR, its partner organizations, and journalists, several official Turkish decisions have been issued. These include renewing and extending travel permissions for Syrians displaced from their home states due to the earthquake.