Some of the most vulnerable people in the world are being affected by the devastating earthquakes that hit Syria and Turkey on Feb. 6. According to reports, more than 4,000 people have died and over 11,000 were injured in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey early Monday, while many people were asleep in their homes. Tremors were felt as far as Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon.
The powerful earthquake, which is the strongest to hit Turkey in more than 80 years, and its second quake almost as strong as the initial one, come amid an existing humanitarian crisis in Syria, compounded by more than a decade of destructive war.
Monday’s earthquakes could not have hit a more vulnerable region. Due to constant bombardment over the years, the infrastructure of many homes and buildings in Syria, Aleppo and Idlib especially, is not strong enough to withstand a natural disaster of such magnitude. The country is also currently experiencing a cholera outbreak, which will only be exacerbated by the quakes, and is in the midst of a frigid, cold winter.
Meanwhile, Turkey is the world’s biggest refugee host country. About 3.6 million Syrian refugees live in the nation following the protracted Syrian Civil War. The region is home to millions of refugees and IDPs, many of whom live in tents and makeshift structures, making this event a humanitarian catastrophe.
“Sadly, needs are rising rapidly in Syria and not everyone who requires assistance is visible. Over 75% of all sub-districts in the country are classified as being under severe, extreme, or catastrophic conditions,” said United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for Syria, El- Mostafa Benlamlih, in a statement. “We must act quickly to ensure more communities do not slide into an inescapable loop of deprivation and negative coping mechanisms.”
Indeed, the suffering that the people of Syria and Turkey are currently enduring is unimaginable and they need all the help they can get. Unfortunately, international sanctions against Syria are making it nearly impossible for aid to reach the victims, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the organizations and charities offering on-the-ground support in Turkey and Syria that are currently taking donations to help with earthquake relief below.
Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
The organization provides medical care to those who need it most in Syria. Your donation ensures that the conflict-impacted people receive the medical services they urgently need. The organization also runs hospitals in Northern Syria and Southern Turkey, to offer on-the-ground support. Following the earthquakes, SAMS said its facilities are “overwhelmed with patients filling the hallways” and called urgently for “trauma supplies and a comprehensive emergency response to save lives and treat the injured,” which is why it’s important to consider donating to the charitable foundation so that they may continue to provide emergency aid to those affected. Donate here.
The White Helmets
The nonprofit organization made up of 3,000 volunteers who help the Syrian community, are in need of more equipment and supplies to continue numerous search and rescue operations in the region. You can help by making a financial contribution here.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
MSF has mobilized its team along with local partners to respond to the increasing needs in the area following the devastating quakes. In the areas where they can’t be on-ground, they have provided relief through supply kits and blankets.
“Health facilities are impacted and overwhelmed, and medical personnel in northern Syria [are] working around the clock to respond to the huge numbers of wounded arriving to the facilities,” said Sebastien Gay, MSF head of mission in Syria. “[In] the first hours [of the disaster], our teams treated around 200 wounded and we received 160 casualties in the facilities and the clinics that we run or support in northern Idlib. Our ambulances are also deployed to assist [people].”
You can help by donating in the following link.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent
In addition to mobilizing 77 catering vehicles, five mobile kitchens, and nearly 2,000 tents, the Turkish Red Crescent— part of the International Red Cross— are providing hot meals and drinks, shipping needed blood and plasma into affected areas, and providing survivors with psychosocial support in Turkey and Syria. Consider donating here.
The nonprofit organization has teams on the ground right now responding to the disaster in both countries. In Turkey, the teams are providing emergency food assistance, shelter, and cash grants to enable those worst affected to meet their immediate needs; and in Syria, Islamic Relief volunteers are providing health and medical supplies to hospitals, as well as blankets and tents for those displaced by the quakes. If you want to help, donate here.