Will U.S. support rise to the occasion?
By: Tahyia Alvi and Gisselle Venable
On Feb. 6, a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a series of strong tremors and aftershocks devastated southeast Turkey and northwest Syria. The death toll from the disaster has reached over 41,000 in both countries combined.
An earthquake of this magnitude on the Richter scale – which only goes up to 9.0 – only happens about every 100 years.
In Turkey, 13 million of the country’s 85 million citizens are impacted, according to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He declared a three-month state of emergency in the affected area.
Syria had already been strongly impacted by the ongoing humanitarian crisis, with 6.5 million children relying on aid. The situation now is much worse in the country and requires greater attention and help.
The intensity of economic despair in Syria can be understood by the fact that 1 USD (US dollar) equals 2,512.59 SYP (Syrian pound). This shows us the extent of the impact that the earthquake is having on the country, which is already going through a humanitarian crisis caused by wars and famine.
Following the earthquake, the dollar value in Turkey went up from ₺18.81 to ₺18.85 in just three weeks. This has caused major disparity, considering that the Turkish lira lost nearly 30% of its value against the dollar last year, and therefore has seen a significant decrease in purchasing power.
The lack of international support and relief received by both Turkey and Syria is concerning. To compare, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti in 2010, which caused $7.8 billion in damages, received about $5.6 billion in aid from the United States.
In clear contrast, the United States only plans to provide $85 million in aid to both Turkey and Syria combined. Haiti also received a total of $13.5 billion in aid from the United Nations, while Turkey and Syria are only slated to receive $1 billion and $400 million, respectively.
It must also be noted that 3 million Haitians were impacted by the earthquake in 2010, while the event in Syria and Turkey has affected about 23 million people. This is a clear example of the lack of support received by the Global South in comparison to other western nations.
As part of a global world, we have the capability to help people across the world through donations. There are many international and local organizations on the ground helping the people of Syria and Turkey. If you would like to contribute, please consider donating to the fundraisers provided below.
Syrian American Medical Society Foundation: https://www.sams-usa.net/donate/
Direct Relief: https://www.directrelief.org/emergency/turkey-syria-earthquake/
Molham Team (Syria-based): https://molhamteam.com/en/wecan#donation-process
Islamic Relief (UK): https://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/giving/appeals/turkiye-syria-earthquake-appeal/