Resources for Turkey and Syria

by Closer Than You Think

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The Team at Closer Than You Think have begun to compile this paper to help guide those wanting to support efforts following the 6th February 2023 Earthquake which struck Turkey and Syria. Please note this is a non exhaustive list as we become more aware of the emerging crises and needs.

Context (with gratitude to Choose Love)

On February 6th, 2023, at 4.17 am local time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, with the epicenter near Gaziantep, Turkey. A powerful second earthquake measuring 7.7 magnitudes struck at 1.24 pm local time in the Kahramanmaras province of Turkey. The impacted area is estimated to be over 650 miles across southern Turkey and northern Syria. Turkish President Erdogan has announced a three-month state of emergency across ten provinces most affected by the devastating earthquakes. This is the deadliest earthquake in a decade.

Gaziantep, a city of just over 2 million in Southern Turkey, is home to nearly 500,000 refugees from Syria. It has also been a critical base of operations for local and Syrian organizations providing essential, cross-border aid in Northeast and Northwest Syria. This city that has long been a haven for so many is now experiencing incredible devastation. Inside Syria, millions of internally displaced live in the areas most affected by the earthquake.

Over 17,500 lives have been lost, and 15,000 more injured. This number is rising by the minute. Thousands are missing and trapped beneath destroyed buildings. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the death toll could surpass 20,000 people and 23m people (including 1.4m children) are likely to be affected. More than 8000 people have been pulled from the debris in Turkey, and approximately 380,000 people have taken refuge in government shelters, shopping malls, trains, stadiums, mosques, and community centers. Many have sought shelter among the debris. Indeed, the earthquake has damaged infrastructure, including residential buildings, roads, and hospitals. More than 79,000 personnel are engaged in search and rescue operations on the Turkish side of the border.

Search and Rescue efforts are fully underway in Turkey and Northern Syria, with teams working throughout the night to save as many people as possible who remain trapped beneath the rubble. Civilians are using social media to plead for assistance for those believed to be trapped under rubble. Turkey’s disaster management agency said it had 11,342 reports of collapsed buildings, with 5,775 confirmed. International specialist search and rescue teams have been sent by the international community to Turkey, alongside offers of humanitarian aid and help from over seventy countries.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by the freezing temperatures and continued aftershocks, and teams in Northern Syria, in particular, lack fuel and provisions to support their response. The latest weather forecasts show lows of -7 degrees celsius in the coming days. In the depth of winter, people displaced by the earthquake face low temperatures and limited access to electricity and heat. In addition, internet outages are being reported in earthquake zones, making communication difficult. This earthquake has devastating implications for locals and refugees alike!

Northwest and Northeast Syria already faced limited medical capacity, supplies & staff; local responders are both essential and, at times, crowded out of humanitarian responses that are heavily dependent on UN/International Aid. The Assad Regime seems satisfied with fundraising for regime-held areas but refuses to acknowledge needs in Northwest and Northeast Syria. Syrians have faced a cholera epidemic in the Aleppo areas in recent weeks, alongside the financial crisis, Covid-19, and war, making the population extremely vulnerable, especially in light of the earthquakes. Roads are cracked, broken, and uneven, hampering rescue efforts and the provision of humanitarian aid. Aid from Turkey to northwest Syria has temporarily stopped due to the fallout of the earthquake.

Significant international support has been pledged to the earthquake response, but it is likely that the majority of this will be directed toward the response in Turkey. In addition, with only one border crossing point open for aid to enter northern Syria, response efforts in the country will be hindered by a lack of much-needed supplies and support. Many are calling on the West to lift sanctions to Syria to allow aid to get in and many groups below are working on moving resources to long time partners in Syria. With the expectation that the number of fatalities will continue to increase, medical supplies, mattresses, blankets, and hygiene items are urgently needed.

Women, girls, and other historically marginalized people are disproportionately impacted by natural disasters and conflicts. When a crisis hits, gender inequalities are amplified. Communities are vulnerable to gender-based violence, lost access to sexual and reproductive health services, and disruptions in their livelihoods and financial security. At the same time, women often take on the brunt of crisis response, acting as frontline healthcare workers, unpaid caregivers, and community mobilizers.

List of organisations taking donations for relief efforts

Centre for civil society and democracy: (Turkey) CCSD is a NGO working across Turkey, US and the Netherlands working to just and stable democracies. Their funds are initially focused on search and rescue, medical support, food and shelter for those affected.

White Helmets: Syrian defence league: (non regime held Syria) well known and trusted Syrian led organisation operating for years since the start of war in the region. Their funds are initially focused on search and rescue, medical support, food and shelter for those affected and on cultivating longer term support.

Independent Doctors Association(IDA) (Turkey and non-regime Syria )- is a humanitarian and medical aid NGO started by Syrian Doctors in Aleppo to support the humanitarian crisis in the country. Focused on medical support and relief

Hand in Hand for Aid & Development (HIHFAD) Turkey and non-regime-held Syria - is an NGO operating in the region to provide immediate relied, medical, food and shelter.

Molham Volunteering Team (Syria) - A Syrian led NGO, supporting immediate relief efforts and operating to provide immediate relief, medical support, food and shelter

Physicians Across Continents(non regime held Syria)- NGO operating across many countries, started by medical physicians and supporting health and medical needs in regions affected by the earthquake.

Basmeh & Zeitooneh (based across regions) - started in 2012 in Syria to support those affected by the humanitarian crisis

My Homeland is a nonprofit organisation supporting diplaced children through the arts and humanities, creative and educational projects. They centre their work in Hatay. They are collecting relief funds via their patreon.

Karam (Turkey) - created by Syrian refugees to help rebuild a future for Syria. Program focused on delivering shelter, basic needs, and disaster relief to our team, families, students, and the Syrian and Turkish people in need.

Guardians Equality Movement (Turkey) - founded and led by Syrian LGBTQIA+ Human Rights Defenders, Activists, and Survivors/Victims/Refugees who strive to prevent a repeat of and protect others from the suffering and violations that occurred against them. In the aftermath of the earthquake they are supporting basic relief and rehabilitation needs for very marginalised groups.

AKUT(Turkey and Syria) - have been serving search, rescue and assistance in crisis and on the ground doing the same now.

AHBAP (Turkey) - Providing humanitarian relief in affected areas of Turkey. An NGO trusted by many funders and existing for moments like this. They are paying for heavy machinery in the region to lift rubble for search and rescue.

INARA has a main office in the area hardest hit and has been working around the clock to support her employees while trying to coordinate their response to help others in need. Children have been traumatized and most are living out of their cars during the cold winter weather since buildings are being classified unsafe or yet to be checked. Those looking for a way to help can donate here

Istanbul Municipality (Turkey) - The Fund by the Mayor of the region affected and coordinating with many local groups on the ground. Working in the region on humanitarian needs as well as search and rescue. Most of their support goes to women, single mothers and young people. .

Ankara Municipality: (Turkey) Another Mayor’s fund affected by the crisis. Is leading one of the most trusted institutions in Turkey. Most of their support goes to women and youth.

ICAN - International Civil Society Action Network: ICAN works with women peacebuilders around the world. They are fundraising on behalf of their peace-building partner who work with Syrian refugees in Southern Turkey and/or war affected families inside Syria.

Funders who are routing funding to locally led and smaller groups, including women, girl and youth led groups

Choose Love (Global): Choose Love are a well known support and funding organisation supporting refugees and displaced people. They are supporting efforts and funding local groups across the region, including many national or regional groups listed above.

Turkish Philanthropy Funds (Turkey): Supporting a network of local Turkish NGO’s responding to the crisis including: hbap, ACEV, TOG, Ihtiyac Haritasi, TEGV that are directly involved in Kahramanmaras and its neighboring towns to help victims recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake and rebuilding efforts. Providing immediate relief to survivors in the form of food, shelter, water, and medicine. In addition, we will provide longer-term assistance to help residents recover and rebuild. There is currently a match fund for upto $1m supported by the CEO of Chobani.

EMpower - The Emerging Markets Foundation (Global) - Are disbursing emergency funds to grantee partners who are mobilising alone and together to respond to the crisis. Many are youth and girl led groups, including many delivering critical education or health access in rural areas affected by the crisis. 100% of your donation directly supports our programme work. Partners include KODA and Young Lives Foundation amongst others.

Global Fund for Children(Global) - disbursing funds for local and alumni partners the Fund has worked with supporting children and young people. One is Mavikalem established in the wake of Turkey’s last devastating Earthquake. They are part of the national earthquake coordination network and will help distribute assistance to impacted communities via this coordination mechanism, ensuring it reaches those most in need. They first plan to deliver infant/baby emergency kits which will include blankets, and diapers and baby formula for 1 month

Global Resilience Fund (Global) - Housed at Purposeful, the Global Resilience Fund is moving flexible rapid response funding to young women, trans youth and girl-led groups impacted by and leading response efforts in the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.. The groups funded are distributing hygiene and dignity kits, food supplies, generators and evacuation and much more. One group is made up of engineering students who are surveying houses of displaced people to confirm if they’re safe for them to move back and to advise on best measures of safety.

Fund for Global Human Rights (Global) - raising funding for activists there who are protecting the rights of women and children, and ensuring refugees and migrants aren’t excluded from the recovery. 100% of money will go to local groups

Urgent Action Fund (Global) - Global network of sister funds who mobilise money to support women, girls, trans and other human rights activists and defenders in times of crisis, including funding to support local groups and movements. UAF WHR is currently supporting activists with rapid response grants across the regions impacted by the earthquake.

Madre(Global) - A Global Women’s rights organisation, they have an emergency and disaster relief fund. Madre has provided support to Syrian refugee families in Gaziantep for years. Through their trusted partners, MADRE will direct funding for a holistic response that takes into account women’s needs, including emergency shelter, food, economic support, and medical aid.

Mozaik Foundation (Turkey): Led by Turkish people (in and out of Turkey) and is a community Foundation supporting a number of local civil society groups and NGOs with immediate humanitarian and relief efforts.

Doria Feminist Fund(Regional) - A regional women’s fund supporting women and girls rights organisations and movements across the region. Doria are currently working with their partners, women led organisations in Syria to ensure they access support and emergency relief.

Other Funders currently developing their response strategies which will be published soon

Global Fund for Women (Global) - Funding will move to grassroots and feminist groups who seldom receive dedicated support to respond to their communities’ urgent crisis needs by putting flexible, core support funding directly in the hands of grassroots groups in the aftermath of crises.

Mediterranean Women’s Fund (Regional) - A regional women’s fund supporting women and girls rights organisations and movements across the region.

El Karama (Regional) - A regional Fund working to promote democracy, justice and human rights in the Arab region. Known for their work in supporting overlooked but critical groups in times of crisis.

Further learning and resources

Centre for Disaster Preparedness (CPD) will host: A layered disaster: Supporting long-term recovery in Turkey and Syria on Thursday, February 16 at noon eastern. The webinar will look at the earthquake’s impact on a region already destabilized by one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. Speakers will share the latest information, including critical needs and gaps, and provide concrete takeaways for funders to effectively support relief and recovery efforts now underway. You can register here.