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Turkey and Syria Earthquakes

Turkey and Syria were terribly hit by severe earthquakes on the 6th February 2023, and the region has since been exposed to damaging aftershocks and triggered earthquakes. We have been in contact with all our colleagues in the region since the first day, and we also exchange with fellow organizations to follow up their efforts on the ground to assess how we can best contribute individually and organizationally.
A huge area in Turkey covering 11 provinces and millions of people are terribly affected. Some of these places such as our beloved Antioch (Antakya) are completely destroyed. It is very devastating to witness that the city where we were so generously hosted by Antakya Performative Collective only 3 months ago for the VAHA final meeting is forever lost... On the one hand, we are grateful that all our colleagues from VAHA and Tandem Turkey networks in Diyarbakır, Antakya, Antep, Adıyaman, Adana and in other affected cities are all safe and healthy. On the other hand, we are extremely sad that some of them have lost their relatives and friends, their homes, and their cities. Unfortunately, this is not simply the consequence of a natural disaster but also of negligence and irresponsibility. Authorities seem to have failed to take the necessary measures to build safe cities but also proved themselves incompetent in the aftermath of this mass destruction for the lack of its rescue and support structures. It is mostly through civic initiatives and civil society organizations that survival needs and basic infrastructures are trying to be provided to the cities and villages from day one. Therefore, we believe it is more important than ever to keep the flow of information and support with the region, and generate our VAHA solidarity platform as much as possible as this is what VAHA means for us in the first place.

Moreover, we believe that support for all survivors but especially for the most vulnerable and precarious groups is crucial and urgent as they are even more targeted and abused in these kinds of extraordinary conditions. The region was highly populated by refugees and immigrants (around 1.7 millions according to the official records) as it is very close to the Syrian border. There is already alarming tension and racist violence against migrant and refugee communities both from civilians and officials. Moreover, LGBTQI+ individuals are highly marginalized and discriminated against by the civilians in the region. There are reports of queer/trans people not being allowed in tents, temporary camps and disaster centers or in vehicles that leave the earthquake zone. The elderly and children are other groups that have special needs and are one of the most affected as some of them lost their caretakers. Once again, it is only the civil society organizations attending to the needs and basic human rights of these groups. So here are some suggestions for what we all can do wherever you are: 

  1. You can either personally or organizationally donate to reliable platforms and spread their calls for support on social media and in your personal networks. Sadly, we realize that the international media coverage and the interest in the issue is really low and not comparable to the level of this mass destruction. We highly recommend channeling our resources to the grassroots organizations prioritizing the rights of the most vulnerable and discriminated groups. If you want to learn more on our recommendations for donations and calls, please check the list below or approach the VAHA coordination team for more alternatives.

  2. You can scan your personal and organizational contacts and see if there are any links to big companies and private or public organizations that might be relevant to support the basic needs in the region such as hygiene materials, medical and food supplements, portable toilet systems, tents or alternative temporary housing solutions, and heating solutions etc. Together with you, we can link big firms or design teams with the grassroots organizations in Turkey so they can exchange know-how or organize the production and distribution on the ground.

  3. You can arrange local events and meetings in your cities to raise awareness on the politics of this disaster and discuss the potential solidarity actions that you can take with other local actors in your networks. Some VAHA hubs are already organizing themselves and we will announce these kinds of public events. Moreover, VAHA Diyarbakır and Mersin hubs have opened their spaces for the displaced people to support their immediate needs but they also plan to start working with the most vulnerable groups soon.

It will take many months and possibly years for the affected cities and people to recover from this disaster. We have to come up with short-term and mid-term ideas to keep the visibility of the issue and the loop of support while also discussing the politics behind this tragedy causing so much loss and displacement. We as VAHA team will do our best to channel more resources to the region in the upcoming months, working together with our local contacts in Turkey and abroad. Let us know if you have further ideas and suggestions. 

Thank you very much for your attention.
In solidarity we trust, and solidarity will save lives!

VAHA coordination team

Who to support?

Research Institute on Turkey, a grassroots research cooperative based in New York City, raises funds that will be transparently transferred to active and respected non-governmental organizations in Turkey. Visit the campaign page for more detailed info.

LGBTQ Earthquake Solidarity focuses on the needs of LGBTIQA+’s and sex workers in the earthquake area. Visit the campaign page for more detailed info. Spread their calls in different languages on Instagram.

Aman Project is a refugee-led LGBTQ+ grassroots organization. Visit the campaign page for more detailed info. Spread their calls on Instagram.

Diyarbakır Bar Association collects donations for all kind of support in the regionSpread their calls in different languages on Instagram.

The Association of Bridging People is based in Izmir and mainly targeting refugees and migrant communities’ needs and their temporary relocation to safe places. Visit their website for more info and to donate.

Note: We are aware that the situation in Syria is also really concerning. We are not in direct contact with any organizations in Syria but you can refer to the list of organizations to support on zusa website.