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How to help the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria

Several aid groups are seeking donations to fund relief efforts focused on helping survivors and providing medical care, food, shelter and cash assistance.
Workers sort clothes for aid shipments to Turkey and Syria in Stuttgart, Germany, on Feb. 7, 2023.
Workers sort clothes Tuesday for aid shipments to Turkey and Syria in Stuttgart, Germany.dpa via Getty Images

As many as 23 million people, including around 1.4 million children, are likely to have been impacted by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, according to the World Health Organization.

For those who want to help survivors of the disaster, which has killed more than 5,000, there are several international humanitarian organizations seeking donations to fund their aid efforts.

Help for children

UNICEF has said children in Turkey and Syria are at risk for poor health and educational outcomes and displacement, among other challenges, in the wake of the earthquakes, given that many schools and hospitals have been destroyed.

In Syria, the organization is working with children and their families, who have already grappled with years of displacement, killings, injuries and forced fighting due to the ongoing civil war.

UNICEF noted that the earthquakes come as the region is also struggling with an ongoing cholera outbreak and cold winter weather. Children 4 and younger made up more than half of the 37,700 suspected cholera cases in northwest Syria last month, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs previously reported.

Save the Children is also working to support children in both Turkey and Syria.

Medical care

Thousands of people remain injured — at least 22,168 in Turkey and at least 1,449 in Syria, plus more than 2,200 in Syria's rebel-held territories.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is raising funds to support the Turkish Red Crescent and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, which are providing food, medical care, psychological support and search and rescue efforts.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières is working with its local partners in northwestern Syria, including by supporting hospitals and donating emergency medical kits and blankets.  

Islamic Relief, which provides aid regardless of religion, is providing emergency medical assistance, shelter and cash grants to survivors in Turkey. In Syria, the organization is working to provide health and medical supplies to hospitals and clinics, and blankets and tents to survivors who have become homeless.

The Syrian American Medical Society says its teams have already treated at least 600 victims in northwest Syria, and that funds raised will support medical facilities in the area.

Food, shelter and cash assistance

Many of those affected by the earthquakes "were already in dire need of humanitarian aid in areas where access is a challenge," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said. At least 4.1 million people in northwest Syria — mostly women and children — relied on humanitarian assistance before the earthquakes, according to the world body.

Now, those needs are spiking sharply.

The International Rescue Committee says that it has more than 1,000 staff members in Syria providing health care and other support and that it is working to launch "an integrated response to affected populations across both Turkey and Syria," which will include cash assistance, hygiene supplies and safe spaces for women and children in particular.

Oxfam's teams on the ground are working with local partner organizations to determine the best ways to help survivors.

CARE, an international aid group, says it’s providing food, shelter, hygiene kits, cold weather supplies and cash assistance to survivors in both countries.

Verify before you give

For prospective donors considering giving to a smaller organization or to one they are unfamiliar with, there are several ways to verify that they're giving to a worthy cause.

In the U.S., CharityWatch and Charity Navigator provide in-depth analysis on charities' finances, governance and levels of transparency.

The United Kingdom's Charity Register and Ireland's Charities Regulator provide similar forms of verification in those countries.

Donors who suspect that any U.S. organizations may be fraudulently soliciting donations can report them to the Justice Department's National Center for Disaster Fraud.