Turkey-Syria Disaster: How to Help
Editors, The Global Calcuttan
February 9th, 2023
Already home to the world’s largest refugee population, Syria and Turkey were immersed in a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions – and then one of the most intense Earthquake known anywhere burst through the area.
Over four million people in the area were already subsisting on humanitarian aid, and this figure has multiplied by amounts yet unknown as the extent of devastation is still emerging.
The death toll has reached 17,000 but this is only the tip of the iceberg as millions more people are displaced.
The calamity, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale has thus far only been surpassed by the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, triggering a tsunami, which killed 18,000 people. With this number almost having already been reached just days after the disaster, it is sure to become the deadliest earthquake in history.
The quake is thought to have hit about 18 kilometers below the earth’s surface, while earthquakes normally can hit up to 800 kilometers deep. This relatively shallow seismicity causes maximum impact on the surface where people live and work.
What makes things worse for the war-torn region is that, already having sustained heavy damage from repeated bombings, the buildings, which have been reconstructed have been done so in a makeshift fashion, making them vulnerable to collapse, even after the initial quake.
According to the Norwegian Relief Council, which is active in the region, infrastructure is “exhausted. Even if you still have a home, there is a chance it is close to collapse,” said a spokesman after speaking to numerous contacts in the affected areas.
Of the scant number of hospitals that remain standing and active, reported Germany’s public news channel ZDF, these have become overtaken by the sheer scale of the medical calamity with reports of bodies literally “piled up” in the corridors.
The weather is adding to the tragedy: “The quake happened at the worst time of night at the worst time of the year,” said Carsten Hansen, Middle East regional director of NRC in a press statement on February 6. Winter weather in this region means temperatures hovering just above or below freezing, with snowfall reported in the Turkish city of Gaziantep on Monday. Cold weather was hampering the rescue efforts too. Some people reported fleeing their houses when the quake hit without shoes.
ORGANIZATIONS HELPING IN THE DEVASTATED AREA:
With countries like the UK and Greece already having committed aid, urgent need is required from ordinary people. For those that would like to help, here are some organizations that are working on behalf of survivors (as provided by Time Magazine:
Syrian American Medical Society
The Syrian American Medical Society is a relief organization working on the front lines of the crisis. They continue to service the area though at least one of their hospitals has been closed due to damages caused by the temblors.
They are asking for donations to purchase trauma supplies and continue to provide emergency aid to their patients.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
The UNHCR is currently in Turkey and Syria providing high thermal blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, sleeping mats, winter clothing kits, and winter jackets. You can donate here.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has also mobilized aid to Syria, and is focusing on assessing the impact the quake had on water stations and any other interruptions to services. It is also assessing the damages schools face. UNICEF said another priority is helping unaccompanied children find their families.
The White Helmets
The White Helmets, a nonprofit organization made up of 3,000 volunteers who help the Syrian community, said they need more equipment and supplies to continue numerous search and rescue operations in the region.
The organization previously helped deliver primary care to patients with COVID-19, offered ambulance services to those with more severe cases, and also regularly provides maternal healthcare.
Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay)
The Turkish Red Crescent has more than 240 staff and hundreds of volunteers in the disaster region providing mobile kitchen and catering services to the region, according to a press release. They are also sending over tents, blankets and beds.
The organization is asking people to donate blood as they continue to ship blood from their existing supplies throughout the day. The Red Crescent’s bank details are available on the internet for donations in a tweet, donations can also be made using this link.
International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee (IRC), an organization that responds to the most serious humanitarian crises, works in more than 40 countries. “IRC teams are on the ground and working tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, local partners and those affected,” said Tanya Evans, the Syria Country Director for IRC. It consistently gets high marks for its efforts, globally, to aid in the most precarious disaster and war zones.
Save the Children
Save the Children is working in northwest Syria and Turkey to best assess aid necessary, but are planning to support affected communities with emergency kits amid the harsh winter weather. You can make a contribution to their Children’s Emergency Fund at this link.
Global Giving, a nonprofit that connects other nonprofits to donors, has launched the Turkey and Syria Earthquake Relief Fund, with a goal of raising $5 million dollars to help with the immediate food, shelter and water needs. Once the initial need is completed, funds will support longer-term recovery efforts. Global Giving’s donation link can be found on this page.
Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian aid organization, has deployed emergency teams to help on-the-ground. You can support their work with a one-time donation or on a monthly basis using the links provided on this page.
Humanitarian Relief Foundation
The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation has been serving communities impacted by catastrophe and war since its founding in 1992. It is collecting donations to send water, food, and shelter materials to people in need. They also have a mobile soup kitchen making rounds in the region. Consider donating here.
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders has provided immediate emergency support through additional staffing, blankets and kits in northwestern Syria in the wake of the earthquake. You can help by donating at the link contained on this page.
Direct Relief is a humanitarian medical aid group that specializes in disaster response. They are currently mobilizing medical aid and helping fund search and rescue teams in coordination with local officials. You can support the cause using this link.
CARE, an organization dedicated to helping fight for and end to gender inequality and poverty, is currently in the area delivering essential supplies and trying to help build makeshift shelters where people can seek refuge.