The combined death toll in Syria and Turkey (as of 20 February) is now over 46,000 according to official figures. Thousands more have been injured, and thousands of people have been left without shelter in freezing conditions. The aid effort is increasingly moving aware from search and rescue and towards shelter for the hundreds of thousands of homeless. Seven people were rescued eight days after the earthquakes.
As of 18 February, more than 9,600 buildings have been completely or partially destroyed in north-west Syria, rendering at least 11,000 people homeless.
The first UN aid convoy crossed over into North-West Syria only on 9 February but this was only carrying routine aid not earthquake-related relief. This was still the case with another U.N convoy a day later.
The Syrian regime finally consented on 13 February to opening two additional border crossing points as well as Bab al Hawa for a period of two months.
Everyone at Caabu is alarmed at the horrific and devastating earthquakes that have hit Turkey and Syria. Our thoughts are with all those suffering and we send our sincerest condolences. Thousands have died. Over 6,000 buildings have collapsed.
Caabu is focussing its efforts on pushing for greater access for vital humanitarian supplies, equipment and expertise inside Syria. The local organisations such as the White Helmets lack the capacity to deal with a disaster on this scale. They lack the equipment, the expertise and also the fuel which is in very short supply throughout Syria.
Caabu has written to Foreign Office Ministers, the shadow Foreign Secretary and his team to point out that "All areas of northern Syria desperately require external assistance in the form of equipment, fuel and expertise. This includes regime-held and opposition-held areas. We would urge the government to provide such assistance on the basis of need at once. Speed is of the essence. Turkey has thankfully received a huge amount of expertise and equipment but Syria has not. According to their authorities, 3294 search and rescue specialists have arrived in Turkey from different countries. So far, around 70 countries offered Turkey help. With the exception of Algeria, no country has offered search and rescue help inside Syria.
Delivering aid into Syria for disaster relief may or may not require suspending aspects of sanctions. If however this is required, it might mean developing innovative temporary mechanisms. The UK can take a lead and push for this. The priority must be emergency relief and not to allow political obstacles to get in the way.
The Syrian regime has responsibilities but its failures and appalling record should not be used as an excuse to do nothing. The priority must be to help Syrians."
The FCDO responded to Caabu regarding its efforts to help Turkey and Syrians. Their letter can be read at the bottom of this page.
Two weeks after the earthquakes, Chris Doyle discusses the implications and what needs to be done on TRT (21 February 2023) arguing that we have to reexamine the model of how aid goes into Syria.
Caabu Director Chris Doyle was interviewed on LBC news. He said that in Syria the earthquake had hit millions already suffering from conflict and humanitarian crisis.
Doyle was also quoted in the Independent. “The world has ignored Syria for ages yet the suffering has been worse than ever. The conditions even without this earthquake were worse than during the war. Syrians have needed our help. These people have had over 10 years of war, bombings, a brutal regime, sanctions. It is winter, they have no fuel.”
In a letter published in the Guardian, Chris Doyle wrote about how the international community is failing Syrians again.
How you can help - appeals that you can donate to
Many charities have started appeals for support to those affected. There are also numerous community efforts driven by Turkish, Syrian and Kurdish communities across the UK. You can read more about the efforts of and impact on these communities here.
Caabu members and supporters may wish to give their support to the following organisations doing work on the ground in Syria and Turkey:
Basmeh and Zeitooneh: a local organisation that has an excellent track record of delivering aid on the ground - see here.
Molham: a local organisation currently working on the ground helping those displaced by the earthquake in Syria and Turkey - see here.
Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS): earthquake appeal providing medical and surgical treatment in NW Syria - see here.
Oxfam: an earthquake appeal has been set up to support their local teams and partner organisations in Syria and Turkey - see here.
Islamic Relief UK: an earthquake appeal has been set up to support their teams on the ground in Syria and Turkey - see here.
Christian Aid: appeal highlighting the main needs of partner organisations working in Syria and Turkey - see here.
International Rescue Committee (IRC): to send emergency supplies to Syria and Turkey - see here.
Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC): DEC's appeal brings together 15 leading UK aid charities, raising funds to support those in need in Syria and Turkey - see here.
UK Parliamentary activity - write to your MP
We would encourage Caabu supporters and members to write to the Members of Parliament and elected representatives, encouraging further support for those impacted by the earthquake in Syria and Turkey. In particular that the UK and the rest of the international community provide more support for Syrians. Syria is an emergency on top of an emergency, with Syrians wondering what they must do to deserve the heavy equipment, international rescue experts, sniffer dogs or fuel, that is so desperately required. They need help urgently, and this cannot be another example of the international community failing Syrians yet again.
Find your MP here.
Response from FCDO to Caabu letter below: