How to donate to Turkey earthquake appeal: sending money to British Red Cross, Oxfam, Islamic Relief explained

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Two powerful earthquakes struck close to the Turkey-Syria border in early February, with the death toll currently sitting at more than 44,000 people

More than 44,000 people have been killed by two powerful earthquakes that struck the heavily-populated border between Turkey and Syria on Monday 6 February.

The first - a 7.8-magnitude tremor - was centred around the Turkish town of Pazarcik, which is around 60 miles north of the Syrian border and close to the major city of Gaziantep. It was followed around nine-hours later by a fresh 7.5-magnitude quake, which struck roughly 80-miles further north in the town of Elbistan. Both have caused devastation well beyond their epicentres, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless.

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Both earthquakes - the worst seen in Turkey since the Erzincan natural disaster in 1939 - have been followed by strong aftershocks. Another earthquake of 6.4 magnitude hit nearby on Tuesday (21 February) killing at least six people. The damage caused in Syria is of particular concern given the continuing conflict in the country. Its northern regions are still being fought over by several different factions, which has meant rescue teams and aid have struggled to get through to badly-hit areas.

The quakes were made particularly bad by the time of day they hit - early in the morning when people were asleep and then at lunchtime when many people were attempting to rescue trapped people. The weather also played a role in hampering rescue efforts and posing a danger to life to displaced survivors, with temperatures having been freezing in most of the affected areas.

Aid has been pouring in from around the world, with the UK Disasters Emergency Committee among the national appeals raising funds to provide support. A team of 70 UK search and rescue workers is working in Turkey, while crews from other countries - including Mexico’s famous dog crew - have also been helping to search through rubble.

So, if you want to send support to the region, be that financial or otherwise, how can you do so?

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How can you send aid to Turkey?

Several UK appeals were set up to provide financial support for people in Turkey and Syria, but the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal has now superseded these. Most of the requested aid is monetary. Here is a round up of what each charity is raising money for via the DEC.

A map of the region where the quakes struck (Image: Mark Hall)A map of the region where the quakes struck (Image: Mark Hall)
A map of the region where the quakes struck (Image: Mark Hall) | Mark Hall

Islamic Relief is on the ground in both countries and says its teams have so far provided aid to around 637,546 individuals. It says it has provided food packs, vouchers, blankets and hygiene kits in Turkey.

Meanwhile, in Syria, it says it is supporting hospitals with urgent medical supplies, and is providing mattresses, blankets, bread, heating and tents for survivors in the country.

The British Red Cross, which is part of the wider International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, is raising funds via the main DEC appeal to support its sister charity the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. It says the TRC has embarked on a “crisis response operation” and has mobilised its emergency teams across Turkey.

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Its Syrian sister organisation the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is said to be delivering “assistance and support” to those impacted by the earthquake in the regions of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia. In both Turkey and Syria, its crews are giving emergency first aid and are involved in the evacuation of people.

Oxfam is also raising funds through the main DEC earthquake appeal. It says its teams are on the ground, and are particularly focusing their efforts on vulnerable groups, like older people, women and LGBTQ+ people.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is working in both Turkey and Syria to provide support and assistance to the victims of the earthquakes. It has had a presence in Syria since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011.

Several charities are already on the ground in Turkey and Syria (image: AFP/Getty Images)Several charities are already on the ground in Turkey and Syria (image: AFP/Getty Images)
Several charities are already on the ground in Turkey and Syria (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

The IRC says it is providing cash, key supplies and emergency shelters to those affected by the quakes. It has also pledged to support essential health services in affected areas, and set up safe spaces for women and children.

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Save the Children is urging people to donate to the DEC fund. It says it will use the cash generated by donations to give families food, warm blankets, winter clothes and shelter materials in Turkey and Syria. It has also pledged to set up safe spaces for women and children, and to provide psychological support for children to help them process the traumatic events they are likely to have witnessed over recent weeks.

Freezing temperatures across southern Turkey and northern Syria have hampered rescue efforts (image: Getty Images)Freezing temperatures across southern Turkey and northern Syria have hampered rescue efforts (image: Getty Images)
Freezing temperatures across southern Turkey and northern Syria have hampered rescue efforts (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Women and girls-focused charity ActionAid has said it is supplying shelter, food, medical aid, warm clothing, heaters and cash for those who have lost their homes in the earthquakes.

Christian anti-poverty charity Tearfund is raising money through the DEC to send to its partner organisation in Syria. It says churches in the country have been dispensing warm clothing, food and essential hygiene products to earthquake victims.

According to the organisation’s lead in the country, Martin Leach, Syrians in affected areas have struggled to receive vital care because many hospitals and medical centres lie in ruins as a result of the civil war. He said: “People were already extremely vulnerable, so this earthquake is a crisis on top of a crisis.”

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There has been widespread devastation in Turkey and Syria (image: Getty Images)There has been widespread devastation in Turkey and Syria (image: Getty Images)
There has been widespread devastation in Turkey and Syria (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Fellow church-backed charity Christian Aid says it is working with its partners in North West Syria to provide winter kits for affected people. Christian charity World Vision said its local teams in Turkey and Syria are pulling together supplies.

Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) has said it is providing emergency shelter, food, warm blankets, and winter kits to the estimated 23 million people impacted by the natural disaster, with fellow DEC charity Care also pledging to provide similar support. Meanwhile, Action Against Hunger has said it is helping to reestablish clean water supplies to stop diseases like cholera spreading, amongst other efforts.

As well as official UK charities, you can send support to those who have been affected by the Turkey-Syria earthquake via GoFundMe.com. The White Helmets - a rescue orgnisation based in rebel areas of Syria - has launched a fundraiser. The group’s head, Raed al Saleh, said: “My team of volunteer rescue workers have been saving lives from under the rubble in Syria for 9 years. Yesterday’s earthquake left the worst destruction we have ever seen. Please help us save more lives.”

The White Helmets rescue organisation has launched a GoFundMe page (image: AFP/Getty Images)The White Helmets rescue organisation has launched a GoFundMe page (image: AFP/Getty Images)
The White Helmets rescue organisation has launched a GoFundMe page (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

More than 3,000 pages have been set up to raise money for those affected by the earthquake. Many of them have been set up by people whose families have been impacted by the natural disaster. You can find out more by visiting the website’s centralised Turkey-Syria appeals hub.

Turkish societies and community groups around the UK have also started to collect key items - like tinned food, warm clothing and nappies - that they will ship across to Turkey over the coming weeks.

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