On Monday 6 February 2023 an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude, closely followed by another of 7.5, struck South Eastern Türkiye near the border with Syria causing massive damage and loss of life in both countries. Thousands are reported dead and many more are injured, missing or homeless. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that as many as 23 million people may be affected.
Türkiye has declared a three-month state of emergency. Whilst Syria is initially reporting slightly less casualties, historic and ongoing conflicts there will exacerbate the problems and their need will be just as high. Possibly contrary to our conceptions, it is bitterly cold in the area.
Disaster Aid UK & Ireland are joining our Disaster Aid International country partners and launching an appeal to help the people of Türkiye and Syria. Members of Disaster Aid International have been in touch with local Rotarians who advise that shelter and warm clothing are among the greatest needs. As Governments and appropriate NGOs respond to the massive and complex disaster phase, we will follow up quickly to assist the survivors with whatever help is appropriate in the next phase.
This is a disaster of almost unprecedented scale across different nations but with your help and generosity allied to our expertise in shelter, safe water and other solutions we can give ‘a hand up, not a handout’ to people who desperately need our help and humanity. Please help us help the people of Türkiye and Syria.
Read the report and actions taken by our two DART’s whilst on the deployment in Türkiye HERE
Disaster Aid UK & Ireland present Sila Arslan PHF “The angel of Samandag”
Craig Roberts a Trustee of Disaster AID UK & Ireland, Lead of the Communications Team and a Disaster Aid Response Team Member (DART) is currently on deployment in Türkiye, following up the previous deployment, which assisted with the aftermath of the earthquakes of February 2023.
One of Craig’s first duties after settling in at Samandag was to recognise Sila Arslan as a Paul Harris Fellow (PHF). This Rotary honour is presented to individuals who have shown exceptional dedication in the face of adversity, putting service above self.
Craig met Sila on his first deployment to Türkiye after the earthquakes when she volunteered to perform some translation services. What neither of them realised at that time was that she held the same values as Paul Harris, who founded Rotary in the USA, and she went on to become in every sense of the word an ‘aid worker’ and has continued our work on the ground in our absence.
A survivor herself and seeking nothing, she has shown compassion and empathy to those who have lost everything, offering support, and building rapport and sympathy. She has helped Disaster Aid International negotiate the complex frustrating customs processes and has been responsible for purchasing, negotiating, and handling budgets. This helped us get our aid into the country. Craig even observed Sila peacefully quell a demonstration of frustrated locals with her negotiation and communication skills.
Craig managed to gather members of Sila’s family for the presentation.