UK charities launching appeal for people hit by earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

British humanitarian charities are to launch an appeal to raise funds for people affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which is co-ordinating a joint rapid response by 14 charities including the British Red Cross, Oxfam and Save the Children, is acting after at least 11,000 people were killed in the disaster.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the Government would match any donations made by the public.

James Cleverly
James Cleverly (Yui Mok/PA)

“When disasters like these terrible earthquakes strike, we know the British people want to help,” he said.

“They have shown time and again that few are more generous and compassionate.

“That is why we are match-funding public donations to DEC’s appeal to provide urgent humanitarian assistance, as part of a wider package of support from the UK that will be used to provide lifesaving interventions to those who need it most in the region.”

The first 7.8-magnitude quake hit the Turkish city of Gaziantep in the early hours of Monday, reducing thousands of homes and buildings across the south of the country and northern Syria to rubble as people slept.

A series of aftershocks has left tens of thousands injured and survivors are feared trapped under thousands of collapsed buildings.

MIDDLE EAST Earthquake
(PA Graphics)

Salah Saeed, the DEC’s chief executive, said funds were “urgently needed” to deal with the “heartbreaking” situation.

“In Turkey alone, 6,000 buildings including schools and health centres have collapsed, with infrastructure vital to everyday life such as sanitation and water supplies badly damaged,” he said.

“Funds are urgently needed to support families with medical aid, emergency shelter, food and clean water in freezing, snowy conditions.”

Relief efforts have been hampered by damaged infrastructure, freezing winter temperatures and limited medical facilities.

The DEC said it expects humanitarian needs to grow over the coming days, with access to shelter, clean water and warmth all potential risks.

Salah Aboulgasem, who is working with charity Islamic Relief in Gazientep, said there is “a lot of screaming” in the devastated areas.

He said: “The priority right now is saving lives by clearing the rubble.

“The next priority is supporting people who have lost their homes and gone through huge trauma.

“People need medicines and warmth. There is a lot of screaming, people are trying to find relatives.

“A lot of people are sleeping in cars because they are scared to go back into the buildings due to aftershocks. The cars are freezing cold.”