As the death toll from earthquakes on February 6 eclipses 46,000 people across Syria and Türkiye, charities and humanitarian groups have scrambled to allocate resources and assist in search, rescue and recovery missions. Australia has sent a team of 72 emergency personnel to help.
Food supplies are dwindling, medical facilities are overwhelmed and the United Nations believes millions across both countries are now homeless. It can be hard to know how to help, so we’ve pulled together a list of charities that are working on the ground to support victims and those in need.
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Syrian Eyes is a Beirut-based volunteer group that’s been around for 10 years. It was started by local volunteers and Syrian expatriates who left Syria during the early years of its deadly civil war. The team provides humanitarian support in a number of informal refugee settlements in the Beqaa Valley, in eastern Lebanon, as well as setting up projects and activities for women and children. Donations to the group’s earthquake campaign will be used to help local organisations provide medical assistance, housing support and finance for emergency heating materials.
The White Helmets is an organisation of rescue workers that has been operating since 2014. It started out as groups of civilian volunteers that would search for people trapped in the rubble of bombed buildings. A total of 3000 White Helmets volunteers are currently on the ground in Syria, and after having helped in search and recovery – pulling thousands from the rubble – they’ll remain on the ground to remove debris, survey building safety, support survivors and continue to recover bodies. Funds will go to supporting these efforts.
The Turkish and Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams is on the ground in Türkiye and Northern Syria performing search and rescue missions, transporting survivors to hospitals, administering first aid and distributing essential non-food items. Donations to the Türkiye-Syria Earthquakes Appeal may support: the operation of those services; specialist aid workers assisting local teams; the location of missing family members and other attempts to restore contact with family members separated in the wake of the earthquakes.
The Syrian American Medical Society (Sams) was established in the US in 1998, with a charitable arm set up in 2007 that provides training and finances for doctors and other medical workers inside Syria and its neighbours, and it has set up a number of medical facilities on the ground there. Sams currently has teams based in north-west Syria to treat victims of the earthquake, and has treated almost 2000 people suffering from head trauma, bone fractures and damage to internal organs, as well as minor injuries. It also supports 36 medical facilities in affected regions of north-west Syria and has a Turkish office near to the first earthquake’s epicentre. Donations will go to supporting the provision of medical care.
Ahbap is a Turkish NGO started by musician Haluk Levent, with a network of volunteers around the country that supports a range of activities from social projects to educational scholarship programs to natural disaster responses. Ahbap volunteers are now active in all the Turkish provinces affected by the earthquakes, providing tents, toiletries and sanitary products to survivors, and treating wounded animals, among other services. In the south-eastern Adıyaman province for example, Ahbap is transporting food and health supplies to inaccessible mountain villages, providing tents to those without shelter and established distribution warehouses for donated goods. Donations to Ahbap will go to providing shelter, food and medical supplies to victims and affected communities.
The Turkish Red Crescent Society has existed in some form since 1868 and is the largest humanitarian organisation in Türkiye (it’s part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement), providing healthcare, first aid, blood donation services, immigration and refugee support (it runs 23 camps for Syrian Civil War refugees), and aid during natural and human-related disasters. Its teams have provided nutritional support to 10 affected provinces at 500 service points, as well as delivered food, blankets and clothing aids to 900 remote villages. Donations will support these kinds of services.
Tulum, Sunday February 19
Tulum chef Coskun Uysal is doing his part to help his home country, hosting a barbeque outside his Balaclava restaurant to raise funds for earthquake relief. Chef friends are lending a hand, including Charlie Carrington, Tom Sarafian, Christy Tania and George Calombaris. Rock up and open your wallets for Turkish simet, boreks, chicken kebab, pastries and dips. You can also purchase Atlas Weekly meal kits, Sarafian hummus and signed cookbooks by Uysal and Calombaris. All proceeds will be donated to Ahbap.
From 11am until sold out.
Low Key Bar is hosting a silent art auction and raffle, with proceeds donated to charities working on the ground in the affected areas – Heyva Sor and Ahbap. There’ll be food from Northcote wine bar Vex Dining and DJ sets from Larry Quicksticks, Muzocan and Ohoney.
Section 8 is hosting Melbourne-based artists Tarabeat and Mzrizk ahead of their WOMAD tour and a bunch of other acts. They’ll be raising funds for earthquake relief on the day.
Maydanoz’s celebrated chef-owner, Somer Sivrioglu, is putting on a five-night fundraiser where you can book an eight-person chef’s table for an eight-course menu inspired by food from cities affected by the earthquake. Tickets cost $250 per person, and include matched Turkish wines, a welcome cocktail and eight signed copies of Somer’s cookbook, Anatolia. All proceeds will be donated to @topraktantabagakoop, a food relief charity in Türkiye.
Karima Hazim and Sivine Tabbouch, the mother and daughter duo behind Sunday Kitchen, are donating 100 per cent of all ticket sales to their February and March sessions. On March 18, Hazim and Tabbouch will be focused on fish and the iconic dishes of Tripoli; on March 19, the focus is on traditional vegetarian meze. Proceeds will be donated to Aus Relief’s earthquake fund
With additional reporting by Katya Wachtel and Elizabeth McDonald.