Severe earthquakes in southern Türkiye: Guidance for companies sourcing from the region

Two major earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5 on February 6 at Kahramanmaras, southern Türkiye have caused catastrophic devastation in a very large region that covers 10 different cities (Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa). Essential services, including transportation, communication, electricity, gas, and water infrastructure, are severely damaged in all cities impacted by the earthquake.

The affected region is host to a number of textile and garment factories that are suppliers of international brands, including some FLA member companies. Some of the cities in this region are also home to large groups of seasonal agricultural migrant workers who harvest several different commodities.

FLA is closely monitoring developments on the ground and has been in touch with different stakeholders since the early hours of the earthquake. Read FLA’s recommendations for companies sourcing from suppliers in Türkiye, as well as ways to help the country’s citizens in this time of need.

UPDATE: February 9, 2023

As the catastrophic results of earthquakes continue to unfold, as of February 9, the total number of deaths in earthquake-impacted cities exceeded 16,000 people. Many remain trapped under collapsed buildings while search and rescue teams try to save lives under severe weather conditions.

Factories Providing Shelter and Basic Humanitarian Needs to the People in the Region

FLA has been informed that some factories in the region opened their doors to workers and their families, as well as to other victims of the earthquakes who lost their homes and desperately need shelter, food, and other essential humanitarian necessities. Such factories are usually subsidiaries of the main suppliers located in different parts of the country and have been able to establish a logistics line to receive humanitarian aid and necessities from headquarters.

FLA applauds such efforts as an immediate short-term measure in light of current limitations on organizing safe shelters and basic humanitarian needs for the affected people due to the scale of the catastrophe, logistic problems, and intensified efforts on search and rescue activities.

Since such factories have self-sufficient capabilities such as standalone (off-the-grid) power systems, water resources (wells) and drinking water filtration capabilities, and heating systems, and are receiving necessary supplies from their headquarters, following such a practice until safe shelters can be provided to the people accommodating in the factory buildings is an acceptable immediate relief effort. Structural safety risk is relatively low for steel prefabricated buildings. Still, all facilities should be at least visually checked to ensure that no major structural safety issues are in place as a short-term safeguard measure. (NB: It is practically impossible at this point for such factories to arrange detailed structural safety analyses since most resources currently are allocated for search and rescue operations.)

Pending Social Compliance Audits and Status of the Suppliers in the Region

FLA has received several requests from suppliers and stakeholders about postponing planned social compliance audits and keeping the active status of the suppliers located in earthquake-impacted areas.

FLA recommends that its members and other companies sourcing from the region communicate with their suppliers to understand such demands; since many factories are not now operational and the rest of the factories won’t be reaching their full production capacity anytime soon, this request can be accommodated by the brands for suppliers located in the 10 cities listed in FLA alert for at least three months as a grace period. However, it remains essential to follow the points shared in FLA’s February 7, 2023 alert about resuming production operations in factories in the region.

Donation of Cash and Supplies

Since posting the February 7 alert, FLA has received many questions from different partners about which organizations should be utilized for such donations since posting the first alert. FLA has already shared several governmental and non-governmental organizations; that list was not exhaustive and covered some key organizations actively engaging in humanitarian relief efforts in the region. FLA welcomes the significant contribution of many FLA members in the form of cash and supplies donated to those organizations.

FLA will continue to observe the situation on the ground and is currently working with several stakeholders on planning and implementing immediate short-term actions, which we will continue to share through our updates. FLA would like to underline the importance of international solidarity in helping more than 13 million people impacted by this catastrophe.

UPDATE: February 21, 2023

Two weeks after the devastating earthquakes, search and rescue operations are coming to an end, and debris removal and infrastructure repair operations have started in most of the affected cities. Tragically, deaths have exceeded 41,000 so far, and this number is likely to go up during debris removal. 

This update provides information and recommendations following meetings held between FLA and stakeholders such as governmental and non-governmental organizations, trade unions, United Nations organizations, business associations, and brand and supplier representatives in Türkiye.

FLA’s local staff remains in close touch with these stakeholders and is working actively on both short-term relief efforts and planning activities for medium- and long-term recovery efforts for the region. 

Read FLA’s updated recommendations for companies sourcing from suppliers in Türkiye, as well as ways to help the country’s citizens in this time of need.