Earthquake: Helping, but how?

Letter to our members, 9 February 2023
Earthquake in Turkey and Syria: Helping, but how?

As an exception, we are publishing a letter to our members here. The information gathered here is a snapshot. The specific needs are likely to change in the coming days and weeks, moving away from immediate aid to long-term support. All mentioned institutions are working with people on the ground and can react accordingly. 

You will be informed about the earthquake disaster in Turkey and Syria. Though humanitarian aid in the event of natural disasters is not our area of responsibility as PEN Berlin, we have been asked frequently by members in recent days which institution to donate to in order to ensure that the help reaches the needy as quickly as possible.

As far as Turkey is concerned, this uncertainty is also an expression of an understandable lack of trust in the Turkish government that is trying to monopolize all aid deliveries under state supervision. It also is the consequence of the information and misinformation of all kinds on social media channels. As far as Syria is concerned, there is widespread ignorance of who has access to which of the various parts of the country.

We don’t think it makes sense for PEN Berlin to act on its own account in this disaster; specialized NGOs can provide better and more efficient practical help for the victims in Turkey and Syria. But we asked some NGOs what exactly they do and how they proceed. We would like to draw attention to these campaigns in the following.

This list is neither exhaustive nor exclusive, intended only as a guide. If you want to donate, but don’t know to whom, this might be a little help. If you think this list is useful, feel free to forward it.

Except for the last organization on the list (Ahbap), all are based in Germany and recognized as non-profit. Donations to them thus are tax deductible. More detailed information and bank details are linked.

PEN Berlin. We stand by our word.


Overview: Earthquake relief: Who does what?

I. Syrien 
(Data only for the regions of Idlib and Rojava; for the parts of the country controlled by the Assad regime, we did not find any reliable data.)

1. Adopt a Revolution: The campaign, which has been active in Syria for years, collects money, to pass it on to its local cooperation partners, especially in the Idlib region. Currently, it is almost impossible to transport aid to Idlib from outside the country. Aid can currently only be organized from within the areas.

2. The Syria Campaign: The donation campaign of the German (or international) partner organization of the “White Helmets” works similarly. The Alternative Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization carries out humanitarian work in those parts of Syria that are not controlled by the Assad regime or Kurdish-dominated forces.

II. Syria + Turkey

3. Kurdish Community Germany:The Kurdish Community, like most of the organizations mentioned here, declines to take donations in kind and prefers monetary donations, with which it buys relief supplies locally, thus saving transport-costs. The Kurdish community works together with local partners in the (majority) Kurdish populated villages and districts in Turkey. At the same time, it is trying to bring relief supplies to Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) via northern Iraq.

4. Medico International: The Frankfurt-based organisation Medico, which specialises in humanitarian aid, also collects money, to buy the necessary things (e.g. tents, blankets, baby food) locally. Medico works together with domestic partners in Turkey and in Syria, in the Idlib region and in Rojava as well.

III. Turkey

5. Alevi community in Germany: This is the same procedure for the Alevi community, which works together with local partners in the (majority) Alevi-populated villages and districts in Turkey in its fundraising campaign. It is also active in the Turkish region of Hatay, where the humanitarian situation is still especially catastrophic.

6. Mosaik e.V.: The association based in Hamm collects money with its campaign “Alleviate distress with heat and light”, in order to buy something that is currently hardly available in Turkey: generators. The association cooperates with the Turkish Red Crescent in handling the import and distribution on site.

7. Turkish Community Germany: The TGD wants to concentrate on long-term humanitarian work and is in the process of reviving the sponsorship association for earthquake victims founded after the earthquake of 1999. To this end, it is working together with the city administration of the western Turkish metropolis of Izmir. 

8. Ahbap: The NGO, founded by rock star Haluk Levent, is active in 68 of the country’s 81 Turkish provinces and enjoys an excellent reputation as a solidarity organization (including humanitarian and medical aid as well as education). PEN Turkey calls its members to donate to Ahbap. There is an English-language call. However, direct donations to Ahbap are not tax deductible in Germany. 

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