What can people in Wales do to help?

Damaged buildings in Hatay on February 8, 2023 in Hatay, Türkiye

Two earthquakes devastated large parts of Turkey and Syria

More than 11,000 people have been killed and thousands injured since a massive earthquake hit southeastern Turkey this week.

It struck near Gaziantep and was followed by multiple aftershocks, one nearly as large as the first.

In some of the hardest hit areas, families have said rescue efforts have been too slow, forcing them to search for relatives without help.

As people watch events unfold, they begin to wonder what they can do.

Who can I contact to help?

The Welsh Center for International Affairs is urging people to donate to groups already on the ground.

It said this should be done through established organizations including the British Syrian Medical Society, Islamic Relief in Turkey and Syria, Oxfam in Turkey and Syria and the British Red Crescent Society.

The organization urged people to only send money saying: “WCIA strongly encourages people in Wales to focus on donating funds rather than clothing and other items, which are impossible to transport and distribute and which undermine the coordination of local relief efforts on the ground.”

The money, it said, would reach people on the ground the fastest so they can give survivors what they need most: medical treatment, shelter and clothing.

Map showing the location of the two earthquakes in Turkey

The magnitude of the earthquake was classified as “large” on the official magnitude scale

Salah Aboulgasem of Islamic Relief, based in Gazientep, Turkey, said: “The priority right now is saving lives by clearing the rubble.

“The next priority is to support people who have lost their homes and gone through tremendous trauma. People need medicine and warmth.”

Has the DEC lodged an appeal?

When disasters such as earthquakes occur, the Disaster Relief Commission normally requests assistance.

It is an umbrella group of UK charities and makes a collective appeal to raise money for aid and relief to those affected by disasters and humanitarian crises.

It has announced that the appeal will be officially launched on Thursday.

It believes 380,000 people had taken refuge in government shelters or hotels.

Its website states: “Immediate priorities are medical treatment for the injured, shelter for those who have lost their homes, heating in safe areas, blankets, warm clothing and making sure people have food and clean water.”

Televised calls are broadcast on Thursdays on the BBC, ITV, S4C, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky and the BBC radio calls are broadcast throughout the day.

DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed on stage at the charity fundraiser

DEC chief Saleh Saeed said the devastation was “heartbreaking”.

DEC chief Saleh Saeed said: “The devastation in Turkey and Syria is heartbreaking, with thousands of people suddenly losing loved ones in the most shocking ways.

“Funds are urgently needed to support families with medical assistance, emergency shelter, food and clean water in freezing temperatures and snow.”

What are other people doing in Wales?

Firefighters from all over the UK, including Mid and West Wales, and the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service are heading to Turkey to help.

A dog detection team from Penmaenmawr, Conwy County, had hoped to help, but was pulled back on Tuesday.

The family of psychology professor Filiz Celik at Swansea University lives in Adana, Turkey, which was devastated by the earthquake.

She woke up to find her phone pinging with texts, but has since found that everything is fine with her family.

But there are friends she can’t reach because phones are down and there’s no way to charge them.

Philiz Celik

Prof Filiz Celik hopes to travel to Turkey to help

Prof Celik is now collecting money to help and wants to help at some point to offer help as a psychologist.

“I might talk to my employers about taking an extended leave and going,” she said.

The Newport Diyanet Education Community Center, a Turkish group, has sent two vans and a truck full of donations and is now focusing on fundraising due to difficulties in transporting donations.

Cagri Coskun from the center said: “We are trying to send money so that they can buy blankets, generators and everything else there.

“There are several charities in the UK that are in contact with search and rescue teams so that the money can go to the people on the ground.”

In Cwmbran, Torfaen, dance teacher Beckie Forrest has also collected donations.

Her husband’s family, Selman Han, is from Turkey but they are doing well.

The mother-of-two, 33, said she organized a raffle and focused on raising money.

“The response has been amazing, we’ve had so many people donate,” she said.

Mohammed Alhadj Ali of the Syrian Welsh Society called the situation “catastrophic”.

He said, “They need medical attention, they need shelter, help and support to get people out of their rooms.”

Is the UK government helping?

The UK government will match the first £2 million in donations from the UK public to the DEC’s Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal as part of a wider support package.

It said this was in addition to ongoing British aid to Syria and Turkey.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “When disasters like these terrible earthquakes strike, we know the British people want to help.”

Leave a Comment