How to donate to international aid groups to help victims of Turkey-Syria earthquake

Donation drive in full swing around world as death toll mounts on both sides of border

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Follow the latest on the earthquake in Turkey

As the death toll continues to rise after the devastating earthquake that hit the Turkey-Syria border on Monday morning, the world is coming together to help the embattled countries.

An online donation drive is in full swing and hundreds of donation sites by international charities and local community groups from all over the world have popped up overnight.

Unicef said it is moving quickly to respond to the needs of thousands of families and children affected by the earthquake.

“Children who are now in immediate danger of being hurt or killed in the oncoming aftershocks and collapse of infrastructures need urgent shelter, safe drinking water, and hygiene essentials,” the charity said in an online appeal for donations.

“Eleven years into the conflict, economic downturn, and displacement have left hundreds of thousands of families struggling to survive in Syria. Now, the impact of such a devastating earthquake makes the situation even more desperate.”

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Here are some of the major international charities accepting collections.

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Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has also urged people to donate through its website as its team of doctors and local partners in Northwest Syria responds to the medical crisis.

“Health facilities are impacted and overwhelmed, and medical personnel in northern Syria working around the clock to respond to the huge numbers of wounded arriving to the facilities,” said Sebastien Gay, head of MSF mission in Syria.

“In the first hours, our teams treated around 200 wounded and we received 160 casualties in the facilities and the clinics that we run or support in northern Idlib. Our ambulances are also deployed to assist.”

Another international charity that is counting on public donations is Save the Children, which has set up a page for donating to earthquake victims.

“Our teams are on the ground in the region and ready to respond,” it said on its website. “Homes, buildings and essential infrastructure have been destroyed and children will need urgent support to access food, shelter and warm clothing.

“In any crisis, we know that children are always the most at risk. The Children's Emergency Fund enables us to respond to crises around the world, whether from conflict, climate change or natural disaster.”

Care International, a humanitarian organisation that has presence in Turkey and Syria, has also urged people to give emergency aid including food, shelter, hygiene kits, cold weather supplies and cash assistance.

Many organisations involved in rescue and relief operations are also asking for donations in cash and kind. For instance, the American Red Cross, which has about 900 Turkish Red Crescent workers and volunteers distributing food and medical aid to the affected families, has said it needs donations for tens of thousands of tents, heaters, blankets, thermal clothes and ready-to-eat meals.

Red Crescent organisations in both Syria and Turkey said their teams were helping with recovery and aid efforts. The organisation affiliated to the International Red Cross has asked people to donate first aid kids, blankets and clothes. It said it urgently needs items including biscuits, bread, energy bars, flour, ready-to-eat meals, pasta, rice, milk, and baby formula.

The Syrian American Medical Society, which is offering urgent medical care to victims of the earthquake, has said that the hospitals in Syria are overstretched.

The White Helmets, a Syrian humanitarian organisation specialising in search and rescue operations, said its team of volunteers are working around the clock to pull bodies from the rubble. The group has solicited donations through its website.

In the UAE, there are strict laws governing donations and fundraising. Residents wishing to donate to Syria or Turkey should do so through registered charities.

Unless a person or community group had permission from a licensed charity, such as Emirates Red Crescent or Dar Al Ber Society, they would be breaking the law by “fundraising” — asking others for money for a cause — according to a federal law governing charitable work in the country.

But there is no known clause in current law, or previous ones, that would entirely prevent people from donating to a major international charity. People are advised to make sure they know where the money is going.

Updated: February 09, 2023, 9:41 AM