The devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria early Monday, are affecting some of the most vulnerable people in the world. More than four million Syrians who rely on immediate humanitarian aid live in the region, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The first earthquake, which was magnitude 7.8, is one of the strongest to hit the region in the last century, affecting an area already confronting a cholera outbreak and harsh winter weather. With more than 9,000 deaths already recorded, it’s the deadliest earthquake since 18,000 people died after a 2011 quake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami and damaged a nuclear plant in Fukushima.
In Turkey and Syria, tens of thousands have been injured in the earthquakes, which struck when many people were in bed asleep, and first responders are still scrambling to rescue people trapped under toppled buildings.
Turkey is also the world’s biggest refugee host country. About 3.6 million Syrian refugees live in the nation following the protracted Syrian Civil War. Many of these refugees live in southeastern Turkey in the area where the earthquakes struck.
The humanitarian situation in Syria makes recovery even more precarious for people there, according to U.N.
“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.”
Some nations have already committed to sending aid. The U.K. promised to send a team of 76 search and rescue specialists and rescue dogs to Turkey. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed condolences and said his government is mobilizing resources to help.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also tweeted that it was launching immediate assistance from their Disaster Response Emergency Fund to make sure relief efforts can continue.
Consider donating to the following organizations to help:
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.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
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.
You can donate here to help.
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.
You can make a financial contribution at the following link.
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 provided their bank details for donations in a tweet, but you can also donate here.
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.
Consider making a gift here.
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 the following 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.
Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian aid organization, has deployed emergency teams to help on-the-ground. You can support their work here.
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 following link.
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 here.