• Mehmet Boran | Senior Communications Associate

When Cemil and his family fled Syria in 2014, they left behind their jobs, homes, belongings and loved ones. They have been living in Gaziantep, Türkiye, for the past decade, where they wanted to have a fresh start in life.  

Language barriers, cultural adaptation and financial difficulties were among the challenges they faced. Then, the February 2023 earthquakes turned their lives upside down. 

Cemil's wife Fatima recalls that moment. “The earthquakes plunged us into a state of panic.  My daughter's husband attempted to help us open the door, only to have marble debris fall upon him, resulting in injury. My husband, aged 56, sustained back injuries and experienced heightened distress.” 

Cemil and his family had to evacuate their home due to significant structural damage. "We found ourselves homeless, first taking refuge on the streets and then seeking shelter in tents and mosques," Cemil says.

Cemil and Fatima are recovering from the hardships they experienced. Photo: IOM/Mehmet Boran

Cemil and his family found the support they were looking for after coming across an advertisement for the International Organization for Migration (IOM)'s hotline. Between August 2023 and March 2024, IOM offered accommodation assistance through a partnership with

Accommodation is offered in hotels or in short-term or vacation rentals. 

“We were fortunate to receive this support. The accommodation was not only comfortable, but also provided a sense of warmth during the winter months,” Cemil describes.  

Fatima also expresses her gratitude, saying that she now feels more comfortable. “This assistance was invaluable, particularly since I suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes.” 

As a single mother, Emine faced a lot of difficulties after the earthquakes. Photo: IOM/Mehmet Boran

Emine had been living in Türkiye for five years and was also left homeless by the earthquakes. 

After losing her husband in Syria, she settled in Gaziantep. As a young mother of four, she struggled to take care of her children but found solace in the solidarity of her community and neighbours. 

In the aftermath of the earthquakes, Emine found herself and her children in a dangerous environment, not knowing what to do. Amidst the cold, she first took shelter in a park but quickly realized that it was unsafe. 

With the help of her neighbours, she obtained IOM's contact information and requested accommodation assistance. 

“Thanks to the timely support, I was able to secure a proper dwelling for myself and my children. This offered a sense of security, enabling me to attend to the basic needs of my children.” 

Emine now feels safer with her children. Photo: IOM/Mehmet Boran

Especially in this season's harsh winter conditions, IOM and's partnership provides a much needed home for earthquake-affected families. Cemil and Emine are among 1,681 individuals who have so far received such support through this partnership. 

One year after the earthquakes, Cemil and Emine remain anxious about the future. Despite this, they keep their hopes alive – knowing that having a place to live in the meantime will slowly allow them to rebuild their lives. 

Written by Mehmet Boran, IOM Türkiye Senior Communications Associate