Syria and Turkey earthquake fundraisers attempt to provide aid – Boston News, Weather, Sports

NEW YORK (AP) — Humanitarian groups working in southern Turkey and northwestern Syria are warning of this earthquake on Monday will have a “long tail” – a wide range of needs requiring donations for months or even years after the end of the rescue and recovery missions.

Among the worst In recent history, the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in the region has killed at least 23,200 people and left tens of thousands more homeless, with thousands taking refuge in malls, stadiums, mosques and community centers. Humanitarian access to northern Syria is complicated by the civil warwhile sending funds may be blocked or slowed down US sanctions, despite an exemption for relief efforts. The political environment in Turkey also harbors challenges.

The first shipment of earthquake-related relief supplies crossed from Turkey into the rebel-held enclave of Syria on Friday, but also a painful delay caused by damage and debris a UN policy which only allows the use of a single crossing.

However, due to the country’s 12-year civil war, some relief groups were already deployed. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had 500 staff members, two of whom were among those killed, stationed in northern Syria where they were helping to cover medical supplies amid the conflict.

“Immediately after the quake, we were able to carry out a massive distribution of food and blankets to more than 500 families from one of their warehouses,” said Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF USA. Your organization keeps emergency supplies ready for major disasters.

“An emergency like this is protracted, both for those injured in the earthquake and for chronic illnesses to be treated to ensure they have access to their medicines,” Benoît said.

People will die without access to medicines to control chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes, she said, adding that the earthquake will also take a psychological toll.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it had mobilized 5,200 volunteers on both sides of the border, with Turkey’s operation being more robust and better equipped due to its long-standing program supporting Syrian refugees.

The Syrian chapter of the IFRC works in areas controlled by the Government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has been sanctioned by the US and European countries. Over the past year, little humanitarian aid has arrived from Damascus to the opposition-held north, which has suffered an outbreak of cholera and COVID-19 in desperate living conditions for many.

The Syrian government said Friday it would allow aid to reach all parts of the country, including the northern enclave, which controls parts of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an insurgent group with ties to al-Qaeda, as well as groups supported by Turkey and US-backed Kurdish groups.

The Syrian American Medical Society, which also provides significant medical services in northern Syria, has called for the opening of additional border crossings and commissioned a legal analysis arguing that the United Nations has authority to use other crossings.

“We think the UN doesn’t really need a Security Council resolution to proceed with this life-saving medical assistance,” said Dr. Basel Termanini, Chairman of the Medical Society.

Both MSF and SAMS said their supplies in the area are severely depleted and new supplies are needed to continue to help.

However, the supply of supplies is difficult. There are major obstacles to moving machines to locations in Syria where they are needed for debris removal. Fuel shortages are also limiting power supplies, said Xavier Castellanos, the IFRC’s under-secretary-general for operations coordination.

He dubbed the situation in the region “the great storm” with all conditions reducing the level of support below what it should be.

Castellanos, speaking in Geneva on Thursday, said the IFRC has so far received “soft” commitments from governments and a very small number of commitments from companies. The group will seek individual donations to make up the shortfall as these funds can be used where they are most needed.

The group has launched a 200 million Swiss franc (US$217 million) appeal for responses in both countries, and the national sections of the IFRC are also fundraising. He estimates the IFRC has received 7 million Swiss francs ($7.6 million) to date in early response to its appeals.

As of Thursday, MSF had received $5.1 million from online donations along with a €10 million ($10.7 million) donation from the IKEA Foundation. SAMS had raised nearly $2 million between one Facebook fundraiser and another on GiveSmart as of Friday.

The humanitarian organization Direct Relief immediately granted $100,000 to both SAMS and AKUT, a Turkish search and rescue team, and announced on Friday that it has increased its commitment to $3 million due to strong support from donors from more than 70 countries. dollars will increase. The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based organization has shipped 42 pallets of supplies, which it says will arrive by Sunday.

Thomas Tighe, who leads Direct Relief, said his team has entered into discussions with healthcare companies to source the medicines and supplies most likely to be needed based on the limited information available and in coordination with other groups.

“If you rush in too quickly with the wrong quantities or the wrong material, you clog up already vulnerable distribution channels, compounding the problem,” Tighe said.

Amazon has pledged $600,000 to humanitarian organizations including AKUT and Red Crescent of Türkiye, in addition to delivering emergency cold-weather supplies, the company said in an online post. Yoghurt giant Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya, a native of Turkey, has pledged $1 million to the Turkish Philanthropy Fund and promised to match another $1 million in donations.

The IFRC is already planning its recovery efforts over 12 months, with recurring assessments to define scope. Trauma treatment and hygiene issues are top priorities.

Some Syrians in the affected area have been displaced many times by the war and separated from their families with little support. Many have now lost whatever protection they had acquired.

“Over 12 years you can imagine how much hope would have been lost,” said Benoît of MSF, which also provides psychological first aid and will train people to provide it when there are not enough counselors.

“It’s essentially about helping the person in a culturally appropriate way, whatever is meaningful to them,” she said. “To get through the day. To be able to function, to be able to feed their children.”


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Sarah Y. Kim

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