UK aid appeal for Turkey and Syria raises nearly £33 million in less than 24 hours

Mick the Ram

Feb 10, 2023

An appeal by a collection of 15 UK aid agencies, for help for the survivors of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, has raised almost £33m in less than 24 hours. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) only broadcast its appeal on the evening of Thursday 9 February, but the group of charities have been absolutely swamped with people contributing.

By lunchtime today (Friday10th) the British public had donated £27.9m, with the government pledging to match the first £5m, taking the total to £32.9m and that figure will continue to rise at an astonishing rate, as the UK plays its part in doing everything it can to help in a scenario of almost incomprehensible, cataclysmic destruction.

The King and Queen Consort, along with the Prince and Princess of Wales have been thanked for their “generous donation” as the entire nation lends its support to a global effort to do whatever possible to assist those so dreadfully affected in this appalling situation.

Andrew Mitchell, the development minister, said the “extraordinary” sum of money that had been raised so far was testament to the “kindness” of ordinary people in this country.

Death toll continues to rise at pace

More than 22,000 people are now known to have died in the double earthquakes which struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, in the early hours of Monday 6 February. That figure rises hourly and sadly will continue to do so at increasing pace as time begins to run out for anybody under the rubble.

Desperate situation for survivors

Many of those lucky enough to be pulled clear, or escape the worst of the collapsing buildings, are left in a desperate position. Hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless, losing everything and remain in a terrible plight. According to the Turkish authorities up to 380,000 people have sought refuge in government shelters, or hotels.

As many as a staggering 17 million people are thought to have been impacted, and huge numbers do not have any shelter, little clothing and are exposed to freezing winter conditions.

DEC pulling together

The DEC has brought together 15 leading UK aid charities to provide and deliver aid after catastrophes like this one. The organisations involved are: Action Against Hunger; ActionAid;Age International; British Red Cross; CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development); Care International; Christian Aid; Concern Worldwide; International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief; Oxfam, Plan International; Save the Children UK; Tearfund; and World Vision.

One of the worst ever seen for a seasoned charity worker

At its hub in Birmingham, one of the charities: Islamic Relief, said that alongside financial contributions, they were also receiving many clothing donations, as people watch in shock and horror at the suffering that the survivors are experiencing. They also hope to get medical equipment, hygiene kits, blankets, tents and food out to the affected areas, as soon as possible.

Salah Aboulgasem, from the charity has travelled to Turkey to offer his support on the ground wherever needed. He said that in 15 years of visiting war zones, and disasters, this one “is up there as being one of the worst”, simply through its sheer scale.

Help already being delivered

Saleh Saeed, who is the Chief Executive of the DEC, said that it is hard to grasp what the people and their families are going through, but confirmed that he was aware that help was already being delivered using funds donated to the DEC and providing hot meals, blankets, and medical aid and with the incredible extra donations overnight, the assistance would intensify.

Royals backing appeal

Prince William and Kate spoke of their utter “horror” at the devastation wreaked by the earthquakes as they backed the UK fundraising appeal. The royals tweeted: “We have been horrified to see the harrowing images coming out of Turkey and Syria in the aftermath of the earthquakes this week. Our thoughts are with the communities affected and we are pleased to support the @decappeal campaign which will aid the response on the ground.”

Celebrities offering up their voices

Celebrities have been lending a hand where they can too, with James Bond actor, Daniel Craig, making an impassioned plea to the nation to give what they can to help. In a broadcast he told the public that there is a desperate need for life-saving support and therefore they “can and must” help to back up emergency responders and aid workers and “ease some of this suffering.”

Sir Michael Palin, who has travelled the world and is familiar with the areas, is also supporting the fundraising drive, and spoke of how the level of destruction and loss caused by the earthquakes is hard to comprehend, highlighting that “natural disasters of this scale do not discriminate.“ He also appealed for donations to fund vital medical aid, emergency shelter, food and clean water supplies, “in a truly desperate situation.” Closing by simply asking people to “please give whatever you can.”

Secondary disaster on the horizon for survivors

Just to exacerbate the circumstances further the World Health Organisation (WHO) are warning of a “secondary disaster” facing survivors. Their Incident Response Manager, Robert Holden, warned that because of major disruptions to basic water, fuel, electricity, and communication supplies – literally the basics of life, many were in real danger of losing their lives, even after surviving such an initial ordeal.

The scale of the challenge is heightened by the fact that the affected areas in both Turkey and Syria are facing colder than normal temperatures. This weekend the forecast for both is for significantly lower than the average for this time of year, with both expected to fall below freezing; magnifying the need to use the generous donations immediately.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.