In the early hours of Monday morning, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria. Millions of people across Turkey and Syria, as well as Lebanon, Cyprus and Israel, felt the impact and dozens of aftershocks have occurred since. So far, more than four thousand people are confirmed to have died (although, that figure is expected to rise sharply), with even more being rushed to hospital with injuries.
According to the BBC, the earthquake happened in a region of instability called the East Anatolian fault. A fault – for those who can't remember their GCSE geography lessons – is a crack in the Earth's crust that can move over time, causing earthquakes. Seismologists have long recognised that the East Anatolian fault is very dangerous, although there has not been any significant activity for more than 100 years. Back in 1882, however, a 7.4 magnitude quake on the fault caused immense damage to towns in the area and claimed the lives of at least 7,000 people. Damaging aftershocks continued for nearly a year after the earthquake, too.
With Monday morning's earthquake having a significantly higher magnitude than that of the 1882 disaster, it is expected that the impacts will be far greater and a rescue operation is currently underway across much of southern Turkey and northern Syria. But what can those of us here in the UK do to help? As the desperate recovery efforts continue, here’s how we can help support the victims of this disaster.
How to help the victims of the Turkey/Syria earthquake
Get information from reputable sources
The first thing to be aware of during a disaster like this is that misinformation spreads fast, especially on social media. As such, it's important to get your information from reputable sources, like the BBC. Although social media can play a great part when it comes to raising awareness, it's vital to fact-check what you've seen online, particularly if you're considering donating money and want to ensure your funds are going to the right place.
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders (also known as Médecins Sans Frontières) has mobilised with local partners to respond to the increasing needs in northwestern Syria. "We are very shocked and saddened by the impact of this disaster on the thousands of people touched by it, including our colleagues and their families," said Sebastien Gay, Médecins Sans Frontières' head of mission in Syria. "Health facilities are impacted and overwhelmed, and medical personnel in northern Syria [are] working around the clock to respond to the huge numbers of wounded arriving at the facilities."
International Medical Corps
The International Medical Corps has mobilised a response to the Turkey/Syria disaster, deploying mobile medical teams in Syria to provide emergency medical care to people in the region affected by the quake. The International Medical Corps is also working with local partners in Turkey to respond, and is in discussion with the World Health Organization regarding a potential deployment of its Emergency Medical Team.
British Red Cross
The British Red Cross has issued an emergency appeal for donations to help victims of the Turkey/Syria earthquake. The charity is supporting the Turkish Red Crescent, which has launched a crisis response operation and mobilised teams in more than 10 regions across the country, while the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is delivering assistance and support to those in need in the regions of Hama, Aleppo and Lattakia.
Save the Children
In northwest Syria, Save the Children is working closely with partner organisations to assess the scale of the damage and provide support that children desperately need as the situation becomes clearer. Similarly, in Turkey, the charity is working to assess needs and has established a response team which will be supporting the national emergency response across the region. On the ground, Save the Children's teams are planning to support affected communities with winterisation and emergency kits, including blankets and winter clothing.
The International Blue Crescent Relief and Development Foundation
The International Blue Crescent Relief and Development Foundation (IBC) has offices across the affected region and is currently assisting local authorities in their rescue efforts.
In a public appeal, the IBC stated that its current "urgent needs" are:
Basic first aid kits
For more information on the IBC's work and how to donate, head to the IBC website.
Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations
The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations (UOSSM) – which has provided independent and impartial relief and medical care to victims of war in Syria since 2012 – has put out an urgent call to the international community to release emergency funds to provide aid and rescue resources immediately. In a statement, the UOSSM said its hospitals and medical facilities are overwhelmed and will need support to ensure lives are saved during this crisis.
Humanity & Inclusion
Humanity & Inclusion has launched an emergency response to support disabled people affected by the Turkey/Syria earthquake. Currently, the team are providing people with physical rehabilitation, mobility aids and mental health support. "We expect a huge need for rehabilitation care," said head of mission for Syria, Myriam Abord-Hugon. "There are thousands of injured people, and many of these injuries may worsen or turn into permanent disabilities if they do not receive appropriate rehabilitation services. In addition, people have suffered significant trauma and will need psychosocial support."
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the Turkey/Syria earthquake.
This story will be updated with developments.
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