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Charities launch emergency appeals after Turkey and Syria earthquakes

07 Feb 2023 News

By Gulsen / Adobe

Humanitarian aid charities have launched emergency fundraising appeals to support people in Turkey and Syria affected by earthquakes that occurred yesterday. 

Oxfam, Christian Aid, ActionAid and Islamic Relief are among the charities that have launched emergency appeals to support the relief effort. 

At the time of writing, Sky News has reported 5,000 have died and more than 15,000 sustained injuries as a result of the earthquake, which occurred in Turkey near the Syrian border.

It has since suffered another earthquake and aftershocks. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) expects the number of fatalities to rise to as much as 20,000 as more information is collected. 

With the first earthquake having a magnitude of 7.8, this is the largest earthquake in Turkey since 1938, says Oxfam. 

Oxfam: ‘The scale of destruction is vast’

Oxfam has launched an emergency appeal to support those affected by the disaster. 

Meryem Aslan, country director at Oxfam, said: “The scale of destruction is vast. Following two big earthquakes and over 60 aftershocks, people are still in shock and fear, they don't even have time to mourn the lost ones.”

She said Oxfam is urgently gathering information to assess the scale of devastation so it can identify what people affected need most. 

“We know that all countries affected by this awful earthquake, and the survivors of it, will need a lot of help and support – not only in the immediate short-term, but in the days and weeks and months ahead.”

The charity has advised donors not to donate physical goods like clothes and blankets as it is not cost-effective and may not be what people need most. Where possible, Oxfam buys items locally to support the local economy. In turn, this also has a lower environmental impact.

Christian Aid: ‘Help people rebuild their lives by donating’

As well as the devastating earthquake, Northwest Syria is already being hit by a cold winter front. Christian Aid is funding winter kits to people seeking shelter that include plastic sheeting, mattresses, blankets and other heating materials.

Patrick Watt, chief executive of Christian Aid, said: “The scenes from this disaster are heartbreaking. And even before this devastating earthquake, we knew over four million people needed aid in Northwest Syria alone.   

“We are hopeful that the British public will show the same spirit of solidarity and compassion that we saw in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine a year ago.   

“Every prayer, every gift, every action brings hope to people hit by disaster. By joining us, you can help people in need rebuild their lives.”   

ActionAid: ‘Women, girls and marginalised communities are always the most vulnerable in the aftermath of disaster’

ActionAid, a humanitarian charity that supports women and girls, also has partners in these regions that are working to help those affected. 

The charity is providing shelter, food and warm clothes to people who have been injured or displaced by the earthquakes.

Racha Nasreddine, regional director of ActionAid Arab Region, said: ”Our sympathies go out to the families who have lost loved ones in the devastating earthquake which hit Turkey and Syria today.

“ActionAid is working hard to make contact with our partner in Turkey and Syria to understand the impact on the ground and respond to the crisis.

“We know from experience women, girls, and marginalised communities are always most vulnerable in the aftermath of a disaster and we want to make sure their basic needs are being supported.”

Islamic Relief: ‘Time is of the essence at this critical stage, we need your support’

Islamic Relief teams are on the ground responding to the disaster in both countries. 

Mohammed Hamza, head of Islamic Relief’s office in Idlib, Northwest Syria, witnessed the destruction first-hand.

“It was 4am and I woke up to the house shaking from side to side. Everything was shaking, bricks were falling out. It felt like Judgement Day and everything would be completely destroyed. My wife was screaming and I went to my children but I didn’t know what we could do.”

Hamza reports fleeing outside with his family to see thousands of people lining the streets shouting for their lost children, with buildings destroyed and crowds trying to pull people from under the rubble. 

“Right now, the Islamic Relief team here is distributing blankets, sheets and mattresses that we have in stock – but these will run out today and we need more as soon as possible. People urgently need tents, food parcels and blankets. Hospitals are inundated with injured people so we’re providing them with medicine and other supplies.”

British Red Cross, Human Appeal, Muslim Hands UK and more have also launched emergency appeals.

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