The earthquake on the night of 26 November 2019 had a magnitude of 6.4; its epicentre was about 10km north of the coastal city of Durres. Around 50 people lost their lives and there is uncertainty about the safety and structural integrity of a great many homes and public buildings. Thousands of people are concerned for their safety and unable to return to their normal activities.
The rapid response team dispatched by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) also includes structural and civil engineers, who began to assess the damaged buildings the day after the earthquake. Many buildings in the cities of Durres and Kruja have now been assessed in cooperation with Albanian engineers. So far, 2,500 people have benefited from this assistance, which is ongoing daily.
Many people affected by the earthquake were taken in by friends or relatives, but a large number are still in desperate need of shelter. The FDFA has decided to send relief supplies of 100 winter tents, 400 beds and 1,200 blankets as well as tarpaulins to be distributed in rural areas of Lezha and Durres. Beds and blankets will also be distributed to people staying in a collective shelter. In addition, a project is being set up to provide financial support to people in need in one of the communities that was particularly badly hit.
Swiss Humanitarian Aid is supported in the relief efforts by aid organisation Helvetas. It is also able to build on the long-standing work of the Swiss embassy and cooperation office, whose network and relationship of trust with the Albanian government enabled a rapid response. In view of this natural disaster, Switzerland is prepared to adapt some areas of the current cooperation programme, and has already been in contact with the Albanian authorities to this end.
Swiss Humanitarian Aid is targeting its current efforts at rural communities affected by the earthquake. The people living in these communities depend on the local area for their livelihoods and have no choice but to stay.
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