Media reports on the aftermath of a massive earthquake in Turkey (which now has the official name of Türkiye) look and sound as devastating as that of any war.
The 7.8 magnitude quake of Feb. 6 was so powerful that it ripped a 190-mile chasm across the country. Reuters reported Monday a death toll of well over 31,000 in Turkey, and 5,700 more in neighboring Syria.
Many thousands more are homeless. The widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure is beyond belief.
Aftershocks have made things worse, collapsing already compromised structures, even as search-and-rescue responders furiously dig, looking for survivors.
All this is exacerbated by the bitter winter conditions in the countryside this time of year.
No nation is prepared to deal with devastation on this scale on its own. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency has put out immediate calls for international help.
The world is mobilizing to help the people of Turkey. You can, too.
The Turkish Embassy in the United States, which is coordinating relief efforts from the U.S. reports, “We need all types of help in the face of this almost biblical-scale disaster that hit our people and Syrians living in the same region.”
Many others in the civil society are also managing important relief efforts, and everything helps in these crucial hours.
For those who wish to help, there are several good options that will deliver responsible, effective, immediate aid that you can contribute to.
The very best option is to donate directly to the Turkish Red Crescent. Making financial contributions directly to the local Red Cross or Red Crescent organization in the affected area is usually the very best way to get aid to disaster victims as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Then, there is always the option of donating to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. They are requesting donations for their Disaster Response Emergency Fund so they can send “immediate cash assistance.”
If you want to engage with and work with local groups here in the United States, contact the ATAA, the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, which has chapters all over the country. Its website has recommendations for earthquake aid.
You can also send donations directly to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Whenever thinking about making donations or offering support, particularly to groups one hasn’t worked with before, it’s always sensible to due do diligence. Inevitably, after a major catastrophe, scamsters will seek to exploit the situation. In addition, not all organizations are equally effective at ensuring aid gets expeditiously to the people who need it.
If you care enough to help, care enough to make sure your help helps.
There is a good piece of advice in The New York Times’ recommendations for disaster aid.
Before you make a donation, especially to a lesser-known organization, you should do some research to make sure it’s reputable. Sites such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar grade nonprofits based on transparency and effectiveness. The Internal Revenue Service also allows you to search its database to find out whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.
Finally, if you suspect fraud, you should report it to the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud. The only thing worse than a tragic disaster are those who seek to profit from it.
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