How someone in Switzerland can help people in Turkey and Syria
After news broke that a record-equalling earthquake had devastated parts of Turkey and Syria on February 6, Switzerland deployed over 80 rescue workers to help with recovery efforts. Despite the workers from Switzerland now being largely withdrawn, the death toll from the disaster is still expected to rise and those living through the crisis will need additional help. Here are the latest updates, including what people in Switzerland can do to help.
Swiss relief efforts in Turkey and Syria switch from rescue to humanitarian aid
On February 12, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that rescue workers sent by the emergency services in Switzerland to Turkey and Syria will now return to the country. During their time in the region, the Swiss Rescue unit, along with the Redog rescue dog team, were able to recover 42 people from the rubble. Now, after an agreement was made with the Turkish authorities, all international teams will begin to withdraw.
This does not mean Swiss efforts in the region will end though. On February 11, members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit arrived in the Turkish city of Hatay with a mission to provide assistance to those caught up in the disaster. The Swiss government also announced that hundreds of winter weather tents, which are able to accommodate up to 1.500 people in total, have been flown from Switzerland to Turkey. The tents will now be distributed by the Turkish civil protection outfit Afad.
Initially, the Swiss response was criticised for its lack of action in Syria, as the ongoing civil war made it extremely difficult for rescue operators to get into the country quickly. Now, the government has confirmed that four experts will travel to Damascus on February 13 to help deliver emergency aid, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is set to deliver 300 winter tents.
What can people in Switzerland do to help Turkish and Syrian earthquake victims?
The 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake is the joint strongest earthquake the region has faced in the modern era. A combination of poor infrastructure, housing and ultimately timing has led to up to 84 billion US dollars worth of damage, and more importantly, the loss of over 36.000 lives.
People in Switzerland may be wondering how they can help with relief efforts in both Turkey and Syria. The Swiss government has already promised 7 million francs in immediate aid, but has encouraged private charity and action as well. A number of local councils (Gemeinde) have announced calls for donations to help the victims of the earthquake. Contact or visit your local council to see if there are any relief efforts currently underway that could use your support.
Online donations to help victims of 2023 Turkey - Syria earthquake
Most prominently, Swiss Solidarity, the humanitarian arm of public broadcaster SRF, has launched an appeal for donations to help the victims of the earthquake in both Syria and Turkey. Donations here will be given to partner organisations that will help those affected in the region, with the majority of funds going to the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement.
The President of Red Crescent of Kurdistan Switzerland, Özlem Arikm, has also announced a fundraising campaign for Kurdish victims of the disaster. She told Swissinfo that she was concerned that Turkish and Syrian aid would not reach Kurdish-controlled or Kurdish-majority areas. “The Kurds need help and they are a bit alone," she concluded.
Some other well-known global charities that you can donate to from Switzerland include the Swiss Red Cross and Unicef, who have both launched new appeals. Like with any disaster, despite rescue efforts coming to a close, assistance in the long term will be just as vital in order to help heal fractured communities. Of course, these are just some of the ways people can help, but with a crisis like this, all help is appreciated.
Thumb image credit: murat photographer / Shutterstock.com