Ahmet Firat emerges from the narrow space of his container in Besni, Turkey for a smoke, hoping to spare his children the haunting memories of the earthquakes that struck their area last year. Following the first magnitude 7.8 earthquake which hit southern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6, 2023, Ahmet, his wife, and their three children travelled 50km from their wrecked home in Besni to Adiyaman, where most of their family lived. Adiyaman was a chaotic scene of destroyed and damaged buildings, and a second earthquake only worsened the destruction. Over the following 10 days, Ahmet retrieved the remains of 12 relatives, an experience that still torments him mentally.
Living in a tent encampment with other relatives, cold and sickness were a constant worry for the family. A year later, they now reside in a prefabricated container on the outskirts of Besni with over 600,000 others who’ve been displaced due to the disaster. Their living conditions have improved, but the trauma of the earthquakes continues to linger.
The family’s container, two rooms and a tiny bathroom, was bare when they moved in and now they live in fear due to the psychological impact of the quake. Ahmet struggles to find work to support his family, and their container may not be available to them for much longer.
Despite their daunting circumstances, the family is grateful to be in a safer place than they were after the disaster. However, they continue to face psychological hardships that are a constant reminder of the fragility of life and the devastating power of natural disasters.