On February 6, 2023, a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southeast Türkiye, near the Syrian border, and northwest Syria. The earthquake was followed by a series of strong tremors and aftershocks, causing widespread destruction and resulting in a death toll that has surpassed 35,000 and continues to rise. The earthquake has left tens of thousands injured and hundreds of thousands displaced, compounding the existing turmoil caused by the 12-year conflict in Syria and the ongoing refugee crisis.
The earthquake, which occurred at 4:17 a.m. local time, struck at a depth of 11 miles near Nurdağı in Gaziantep province. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), at least 120 aftershocks have been recorded in the region in the ensuing days. Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a three-month state of emergency in the affected area, with over 13 million of the country's 85 million citizens impacted. Even before the devastating earthquake, more than 6.5 million children in Syria needed humanitarian aid due to the ongoing conflict. The World Health Organization estimates that around 23 million people, including 1.4 million children, are likely to be affected by this disaster.
On Thursday, February 9, the United Nations sent a convoy of six trucks carrying desperately needed relief supplies, including food, water, shelter, and cleaning essentials, into beleaguered northwest Syria through Türkiye, marking the first shipment of its kind since the earthquake. Since then, at least 35 U.N. trucks have crossed into northwest Syria with relief supplies. Turkish rescuers continue to search for survivors in the rubble, with several being rescued after being trapped under crumbled buildings for more than 100 hours.
The earthquake’s epicenter was near the cities of Nurdağı and Gaziantep in Gaziantep Province, just outside the regional capital, which is home to millions of Syrian refugees. The quake added to the misery along the border, which has been beset by the ongoing Syria conflict and refugee crisis. Türkiye hosts the largest number of refugees globally, with around 3.5 million Syrians, according to the UNHCR, which runs one of its most extensive operations from Gaziantep.
The quake hit at least 10 Turkish provinces, including Adana, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Malatya, and Sanliurfa, which is a significant hub for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) supporting Syrians through cross-border humanitarian operations. In Syria, the cities of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Idlib were badly hit, with buildings damaged and many reportedly collapsed. Aleppo, already ravaged by civil war, was among the most affected areas, where more than 4 million people already relied on humanitarian aid.
The earthquake in Türkiye has left many in need of relief, and there are several ways to donate and support the affected communities. Donations can be made to international aid organizations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UNICEF, and the International Rescue Committee. Local organizations on the ground, like the Turkish Red Crescent Society, are also working to provide aid, and donations can be made directly through their website. Crowdfunding campaigns have also been set up to support earthquake relief efforts, which can be found on platforms.
When making donations, it is important to ensure that the organization or campaign is reputable and has a track record of effectively using funds. It is recommended to donate through an organization's official website or a secure crowdfunding platform and to avoid unsolicited emails or phone calls, which may be scams.
Donating to relief efforts in Türkiye can make a significant impact on the affected communities and help provide vital support during this challenging time.
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