Nearly £100m raised by UK charity after Turkey and Syria earthquake

Nearly £100 million has been raised by a UK charity following the earthquake in Turkey and Syria in one of the “fastest and largest” disaster appeals.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), a non-government organisation bringing together 15 UK charities, said donations had reached £98 million since the February 6 quake which killed tens of thousands of people.

DEC groups and local partners have been providing food, water, shelter and warm clothing for children and families in both Turkey and Syria.

The organisation said the scale of the damage was “immense” and there would need to be a long-term rebuild project.

DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed told the PA news agency: “Immediately after the earthquake happened our members were already on the ground in Turkey and in Syria, and in northwest Syria, many of our members have been working there for over a decade.

“So the funds that have been raised by the appeal have supported initially the search and rescue phase and have also now moved on to the recovery phase, which includes of course making sure people have somewhere to live, whether that be a temporary shelter such as a tent, and have warmth in the form of blankets.

“Food, crucially, the British Red Cross through the Turkish Red Crescent has distributed 36 million hot meals already including 31 million loaves of bread.

A mannequin dressed as Father Christmas stands inside an apartment of a destroyed building in Turkey following the earthquake
A mannequin dressed as Father Christmas stands in a destroyed building following the earthquake in Samandag, southern Turkey (Emrah Gurel/AP)

“I think that just demonstrates the scale of the humanitarian operation, and of course people also need to receive medical care, medical assistance as well and that’s supported by the DEC through our member charities and their local partners on the ground.

“The work, of course, is going to be ongoing not just for the weeks and months ahead, but potentially for years to come because the scale of the damage both in Turkey and Syria is immense and can’t really be rebuilt in a short space of time.”

UN officials have warned the number of people killed in the disaster could exceed 50,000.

The region has been facing freezing conditions, with temperatures dropping below zero overnight after people lost their homes, and tremors were still being felt in the area.

More recently, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake tore through Turkey’s Hatay province, centred in the town of Defne, on Monday.

Mr Saeed went on: “This is certainly one of our fastest and largest appeals that we’ve ever launched.

“People have obviously been very moved when they’ve seen the damage and the impact that the earthquakes had both inside Turkey and Syria and given very quickly and very generously.

“So we would still urge people to continue to give and to encourage others to give because the needs are immense.

“And as we’ve seen, people will need the very basics whether it be food, water, shelter and and of course medical assistance as well.

“So £98 million is an incredibly generous amount, but we also know that the United Nations have said something like £130 billion is needed just in the next three months alone for the humanitarian response, so I think that puts it into perspective.”

The Government match-funded the first £5 million of donations to the DEC appeal providing aid in the region.

Donations can be made here