Grassroots fundraising efforts grow for Turkey-Syria quakes

International aid has poured in from governments and organisations across the world in the wake of a series of devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria.

The series of earthquakes, which began with a magnitude 7.8 quake on February 6, has left more than 41,000 dead in Turkey, and more than 5,800 dead in Syria, crumpling cityscapes and leaving millions homeless.

The United Nations is appealing for $1bn in aid for Turkey and nearly $400m for Syria, and grassroots efforts have also sprung up across the world to fill the gap.

Those who have stepped up have included communities already grappling with their own crises.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo-based humanitarian organisation posted on their social media that a 91-year-old grandmother – whom they support with daily lunches – had donated the equivalent of $5 to the recovery.“We don’t even have to say what a difficult health and financial condition she is in, but that didn’t stop her from using her minimal income, from which she can’t even afford everything she needs [to] allocate 10 [convertible marks or $5] for people who experienced a great tragedy,” wrote the group, which has been packing and shipping donated items collected from across the country, including electric heaters, blankets, sleeping bags and clothes.

Rohingya refugees, many of whom live in dire conditions in sprawling camps in southern Bangladesh, have also stepped up to help, with activists saying they had provided 700 blankets to Turkey’s emergency administration (AFAD).

In the wake of the quakes, Ali Johar, a Rohingya human rights activist, tweeted that his mother had sold her “golden bangle that she saved for family emergency” to support Turkey.

“She says, Turkey has been with Rohingya people whenever we faced emergency, we must stand with Turkey in this destitute time,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, an Azerbaijani man, identified as Sarvar Bashirli, made headlines in Turkey for driving his dilapidated car across the Central Asian country to collect aid. He told reporters his family had previously been forcibly displaced from the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Efforts have also emerged in the besieged Gaza strip, where Palestinian charity the Islamic Center Charity Society has joined other groups, including the Gaza office of the Arab Medical Union and the al-Amal Institute for Orphans, in launching fundraising appeals for Turkey and Syria.

In Greece, thousands of people have responded to calls for aid to quake-hit Turkey, reviving memories of how a spontaneous outpouring of help after a similar disaster in 1999 brought the squabbling neighbours together when they seemed to be on the brink of war.

At the Athens offices of the Red Cross, sleeping bags, blankets, milk cans and boxes of medicine are piling up, the organisation’s spokesman Konstantinos Gavriilidis told AFP news agency last week.

In Uganda, students and teachers from the country’s Muslim minority have said they had raised about $10,000 for earthquake relief.

Student Salim Mubekete told the Anadolu news agency they donated the money to show solidarity with the Turkish people and the Muslim community at large, who have contributed towards the construction of mosques at their schools and in the region.

“We were touched by what happened to our brothers and sisters in [Turkey],” he said. “It is unfortunate that the earthquake killed many people in the country, whose people have been helping us in various ways.”

And in drought-hit Somalia, the business community has reportedly pledged $3m in earthquake aid. That comes amid a wider government-led fundraising push to aid Turkey, which has long led development initiatives in the war-torn country.

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