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Devastating earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria, here’s how you can help

An abandoned school after earthquake with debris surrounded it
Scores of countries, including the U.S., are offering humanitarian aid to earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. There are also plenty of ways for individuals to contribute to aid efforts. (Berkay Ataseven /
  • A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit turkey and Syria on Monday, killing thousands and bringing down buildings 
  • Scores of countries are offering aid, including the United States 
  • If you want to contribute directly to humanitarian aid, there are many, well-vetted international groups on the ground

Emergency workers in Turkey and Syria are searching for survivors following devastating winter earthquakes early Monday. More than 3,000 were reported dead as of mid-afternoon in the United States, with the death toll expected to rise as rescuers dig through thousands of collapsed structures. 

The U.S. is among scores of countries and international agencies offering humanitarian aid following earthquakes that registered as 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude and dozens of aftershocks.


If you care to contribute directly to earthquake victims and their communities, there are a number of international organizations experienced in delivering food, water, clothing, medical care, temporary housing, reconstruction and other relief during large-scale catastrophes. A list of some of these organizations is provided below. 


“We are compiling a list of the right contacts for organizations that can effectively bring aid to people in need,” said Fatma Kocer, representative for the Turkish American Cultural Association of Michigan, which works to ensure the Turkish community in Michigan has access to accurate information and avoids fake accounts and misinformation in times of need.  

“We hear that they are in need of: blankets, water, food…,” she said, “anything  you can think of that someone without a house and is being stranded in cold weather outside” might need. 

Over 9,000 search and rescue workers have been deployed so far in Turkey and 50 countries have reached out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a government agency that provides support for citizens traveling abroad. 

The Syrian government said it has deployed civil defense, firefighting, health and construction teams to help with the damage. The relief effort in northern Syria is complicated by that nation’s long-standing civil war, with much of northwest Syria held by rebel forces.  

The first and most powerful of two earthquakes registered at a magnitude of 7.8 in southern Turkey, just north of the Syrian border. Aftershocks were felt across the region in Lebanon and Georgia, the United States Geological Survey reported. (The Earthquake Magnitude Scale ranges from 2.5 or less which is usually not felt to 8.0 which is considered a “Great earthquake” capable of destroying cities and communities, according to Michigan Technological University.)   

The World Health Organization (WHO) has sent emergency teams and has been given special permission to care for those injured by the devastation. The UN migration agency has opened its warehouse in Gaziantep, Turkey just 150 miles from the Syrian border. The warehouse has prepared non-food items and relief.  

Below is a list of several highly rated international relief agencies that accept donations. You can also consult with consumer groups such as Charity Watch, Charity Navigator and Consumer Reports for their recommendations: 

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