On the night of 6 February 2022, two devastating earthquakes hit south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria. As of now, at least 40.000 people have died, and it is feared that the number of victims will increase drastically. We have compiled a list of organisations to which you can donate in the different affected areas.
Thousands are buried under the rubble. Even those who have escaped with their lives have often lost everything. The survivors of the earthquakes are still outside their homes. Cold, snowfall, rain and wind are complicating the situation and now a week after the quakes, the risk of epidemics in the disaster region is growing.
The affected area is almost as large as the area of Germany. Observers on the ground speak of an enormous scale of devastation. In Turkey, around 25 million people in ten provinces are affected by the consequences of the earthquakes. Entire cities lie in ruins, and critical infrastructure such as roads, airports and hospitals have been affected.
In Syria, the earthquakes hit a country that has suffered severely from the consequences of eleven years of war. Many of the buildings had already been damaged by the war, and the medical infrastructure is not up to the task of caring for the injured due to targeted bombings of hospitals. The UN estimates that the quakes have now left 5.3 million people homeless. The Idlib region in north-western Syria, which is outside the control of the Syrian regime, is particularly vulnerable. Three million people live there as internally displaced persons, many in tents and other makeshift shelters. The northwest of the country has received little international aid, with UN agencies and other well-known major humanitarian organisations delivering their emergency aid through Damascus. This is at the demand of the Assad regime, which today, as in the past, makes it difficult for humanitarian aid to enter the so-called opposition areas. Civil defence and local NGOs are doing the work on the ground.
Syria and Turkey are connected to Germany on many levels. Many Germans have friends and family there. The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung has been working with civil society partners in these countries for many years – and we stand by their side in this situation as well. In many places, civil society initiatives are organizing and taking care of those affected on the ground, often where the state is not there or is there very late.
We have compiled a list of organisations you can donate to in the different affected areas:
Ahbap is an aid organisation founded in 2017 by Turkish rock musician Haluk Levent. The association is active in 68 cities in Turkey and works mainly with volunteers. Not only do they collect donations to help those affected on the ground, but the organisation's website also features a list of earthquake-safe places where people can seek refuge, such as sports centres, dormitories, stadiums and restaurants: https://ahbap.org/disasters-turkey
Aman Project started in 2017 with a shelter in Istanbul that provided a home and training opportunities for LGBTIQ+ refugees from the region. Today, the project supports the LGBTIQ+ community by providing direct emergency assistance for rent, food, and medicine, and offers help with asylum applications in third countries. They raise funds to support LGBTIQ+ in the earthquake zone. In addition, LGBTIQ+ in need of emergency assistance can contact them through their website: https://www.amanproject.org
RomaniGodi is an initiative founded in 2022 to support the Roma population in Turkey. It is currently raising funds to provide for Roma families especially in the greater Hatay area especially for clothing, food, sanitation needs and shelter: https://chuffed.org
The White Helmets, also known as Syrian Civil Defence, is the only organised search and rescue mission in north-western Syria, an area that is outside the control of the regime in Damascus. Formed in 2012 and made up of more than 2.900 volunteers, the organisation is known for its rescue missions following bombings in the war-torn region. Since the earthquake, they have been working tirelessly in 45 communities to recover trapped people, as international aid has yet to reach the area. The White Helmets need fuel and heavy equipment for the recovery effort and, of course, support: https://www.whitehelmets.org/en/
Molham Team is an organisation founded in 2012 by Syrian students to support their fellow Syrians with essentials such as food, shelter and medicine. Meanwhile, Molham Team is an established NGO in Turkey with 300 volunteers and 70 employees, which is now providing food and shelter to earthquake survivors who have lost their homes during the crisis. It works in areas outside the control of the Syrian regime: https://molhamteam.com/en/wecan
Basmeh & Zeitouneh is a Syrian organisation that works mainly with Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and is active in various areas such as basic humanitarian needs, education and strengthening civil society. Their fundraiser, set up because of the earthquake, aims to support their team in southern Turkey, where many Syrian refugees live and have been affected by the earthquake. They are equipping survivors with blankets to protect them from the cold, and getting involved in rescue and shelter efforts. https://justgiving.com
Women Now for Development is a Syrian women's rights organisation that runs centres where women learn, receive psychological counselling, and receive mutual support. These centres are located, among other places, in the area affected by the earthquake, and thus the courageous staff members themselves and their families, but also especially the women they otherwise help, have been severely affected. Women for Women is an international NGO that is now helping to raise funds for the Syrian partners and thus to help directly and in an uncomplicated way: https://support.womenforwomen.org
This article was first published in German on boell.de.