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DEC launches emergency earthquake appeal

Melanie May | 9 February 2023 | News

Destruction caused by the earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Türkiye.
DEC: Destruction caused by the earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Türkiye.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launches an appeal today (9 February) to raise funds to help people affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. More on this, and other fundraising efforts below.

So far, around 13,000 people have been killed in Turkey, and 3,000 in Syria, with many more injured.

DEC charities and their local partners are among the first responders, working with locally-led relief efforts. Immediate priorities are medical treatment for the injured, shelter for those who have lost their homes, as well as blankets, warm clothes and heaters for safe spaces. They are also ensuring people have enough food and clean water.  


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The DEC brings together 15 aid charities at times of crisis overseas. Fourteen of these are responding in Türkiye and Syria including Islamic Relief, British Red Cross, ActionAid and Save the Children. 

Appeals will be broadcast on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky today following the evening news, and BBC radio appeals will be broadcast throughout the day. 

The DEC will also hold a virtual press conference at 11.15am where DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed will be joined by spokespeople and aid workers on the ground. 

Saeed said: 

“The devastation in Turkey and Syria is heartbreaking, with thousands of people losing loved ones suddenly in the most shocking of ways. In Turkey alone, 6,000 buildings including schools and health centres have collapsed, with infrastructure vital to everyday life such as sanitation and water supplies badly damaged.


“Funds are urgently needed to support families with medical aid, emergency shelter, food and clean water in freezing, snowy conditions. Fourteen of our member charities are responding now in Türkiye and Syria.”

The UK Government will match the first £2 million of donations from the British public to the DEC’s Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal – part of a wider package of support from the UK Government and in addition to ongoing UK Aid support in Syria and Türkiye.

More emergency response

The DEC appeal joins others set up in the aftermath of this week’s earthquake. Oxfam is working with partners in both countries affected to support people left out in the cold with supplies like food, clean water and shelter. It says the most urgent needs include emergency shelter and winter kits as well as food, clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

Islamic Relief has launched a £20 million global appeal to support its teams on the ground in Syria and Türkiye.

Mohammed Hamza, head of Islamic Relief’s office in Idlib, northwest Syria, witnessed the destruction first-hand and said:

“So many buildings were totally destroyed, and I saw tens of people under the rubble, with crowds trying to pull them out. People are still out in the streets – they don’t have anything to go home to and we are all scared of aftershocks.


“Right now, the Islamic Relief team here is distributing blankets, sheets and mattresses that we have in stock – but these will run out very quickly and we need more as soon as possible. People urgently need tents, food parcels and blankets. Hospitals are inundated with injured people, so we’re providing them with medicine and other supplies.”

Save the Children is working closely with partner organisations in Northwest Syria to assess the scale of the damage and provide support, and in Türkiye has established a response team which will be supporting the national emergency response across the region, in close coordination with the government and key stakeholders.

CARE Türkiye has reported that it is prioritising the delivery of essential items to people seeking refuge from the earthquake, recognising the urgency as the extreme weather conditions impact access and safe passage.

Action Against Hunger, British Red Cross and others all have teams on the ground or are providing support and are appealing for funds. More on the response here from Bond.

Elsewhere, the Big Give is fundraising for the DEC appeal, with almost £700,000 raised so far. All donations will be doubled on the platform while match funds last, with a campaign target of £1.2mn. Match funding for this DEC appeal is being provided by the Reed Foundation and UK Aid Match.

As of yesterday, JustGiving’s appeal had raised £1.5mn with numerous fundraisers set up to raise donations.

Retailers and other organisations are also pledging support. The Freemasons has announced that it is giving a £60,000 grant to the British Red Cross, UK for UNHCR and UNICEF, through the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The IKEA Foundation has announced a €10 million donation to MSF International to help it provide emergency assistance, while Marks & Spencer has made a £50,000 donation the British Red Cross and sent thermals to the region to be distributed by its local franchise partner. More in this Retail Week story here.

Crypto exchange has also pledged ₺1mn, while to raise additional donations, its nonprofit philanthropic organisation Gate Charity has partnered with Gate NFT to launch a charitable NFT collection: Earthquake Recovery Donation NFTs. All proceeds from the collection’s sales will go directly to disaster response and recovery in Türkiye.

Safe giving

The Charity Commission and Fundraising Regulator have issued guidance on how to ensure safe giving. Both regulators are reminding people to check charities are registered and legitimate with advice including: