Albania: Future uncertain for thousands of earthquake homeless

Tirana/Budapest/Geneva, 2 December 2019 – At least 4,000 people remain homeless nearly a week after a devastating 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Albania. The earthquake, which struck on 26 November, killed 51 people and directly affected 100,000 people, according to the Albanian Red Cross.

More than 350 local Red Cross volunteers have been involved in the response, including in search and rescue efforts that officially ended yesterday (1 December). The volunteers have also provided first aid, psychosocial support and food and water, as well as relief supplies such as blankets and hygiene items.

However, more support is clearly needed. The Albanian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are appealing for 3 million Swiss francs to expand relief and recovery efforts.

The Secretary General of Albanian Red Cross, Mr. Artur Katuci, said:

“We are very thankful for all the assistance that has been pouring in from the Red Cross Red Crescent family. This appeal will enable us to directly help 10,000 of the most vulnerable people, and another 50,000 people through community-based activities for a period of 12 months.”

Aftershocks continue to rock the region and many people are still in evacuation centres and camps.

“We are concerned about both the physical and psychological effect this disaster will have on those impacted by the quake. Aftershocks are continuing to affect people, so psychosocial support is very important,” Mr Katuci said. “Our volunteers have been on the ground since the start, comforting survivors.”

The Tirana and Durres areas were already vulnerable after a 5.6 magnitude earthquake in September injured more than 100 people and damaged or destroyed 500 houses. Mr Katuci said affected people will need ongoing support for some time, to help them recover homes, health and livelihoods.

IFRC deployed five staff members from its Europe regional office in Hungary to assist Albanian Red Cross with the earthquake operation. The Red Cross has supported more than 8,000 people since the disaster.