03 August 2023

UK ‘a leader’ in Turkey-Syria earthquake appeal as donations top £150 million

03 August 2023

The UK has led the way in supporting the earthquake appeal for Turkey and Syria, as donations topped £150 million six months on, a charity has said.

At least 58,000 people across southern Turkey and north-west Syria were killed after the earthquakes on February 6.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has announced that donations have reached £151.8 million, which includes £5 million matched by the UK Government through the Aid Match scheme.

Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the DEC, told the PA news agency: “The British public have been incredibly generous to the appeal, for Turkey and Syria over £150 million has been raised.

“This is going a long way to help the survivors with the essentials, with providing healthcare, psychosocial support, physiotherapy, cash vouchers so people can buy food and the things they want, the distribution of hygiene kits, kitchen sets, dignity kits.

“We have to remember that lots of people lost everything in the earthquake so the aid is going sometimes on the basics, for essential items that help people recover and help people survive.

“I feel incredibly humbled and privileged to be working at DEC, an organisation that mobilises so many people up and down the land and of course first and foremost the British public who are incredibly generous.

“And it’s really placed the UK as a leadership country when it comes to responding on the back of millions of people wanting to stand in solidarity, whether it’s Ukraine, whether it’s Turkey and Syria or the recent Pakistan floods and so forth.”

Since the earthquakes, survivors have faced first torrential rains and flooding and now the extreme heat affecting much of southern Europe.

This appeal is the third largest in the DEC’s 60-year history and in the first three months of the DEC response, across Turkey and Syria: 40,300 households received cash or voucher payments to help meet their basic needs; 427,000 people were provided with access to safe drinking water; 201,000 people received emergency food or a voucher for food; 48,200 people accessed health services such as mobile clinics, medical kits, and free medication.

Mr Saeed returned this week from visiting DEC-funded projects in Gaziantep, southern Turkey, where he met people affected by the earthquakes.

They included Zeynep and Mehmet, whose farmhouse was destroyed in the earthquake and have received supermarket vouchers to help buy food and other essentials from DEC charity British Red Cross.

Mr Saeed added: “The figure to rebuild people’s homes and rebuild people’s lives is in the billions and of course we’re not going to raise that and don’t expect people to contribute that.

“But what we’re grateful for is the people that have already given and are continuing to give to DEC appeals, are going a long way to providing support and relief.”

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