BYU students organize fundraiser to help those affected by Turkey, Syria earthquakes

A man searches for people in a destroyed building in Adana, Turkey, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. A powerful quake has knocked down multiple buildings in southeast Turkey and Syria and many casualties are feared. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A man searches for people in a destroyed building in Adana, Turkey, on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. Searches like this are ongoing and the second round of quakes on Feb. 20, 2023, caused similar damage. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

BYU students from the Middle Eastern Studies/Arabic Student Association are hosting a fundraiser on Feb. 24 to help the victims of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Association president Robert Cherrington said the donations from the fundraiser will go to Hope Humanitarian, a local non-profit organization committed to helping those in need in Turkey and Syria. The event will run 6:30-8:30 p.m. in WSC 3320 and students will serve food and host a trivia event.

“The money that we raise is going to be spent on purchasing medical supplies, food rations and shelter,” Cherrington said.

The two initial quakes on Feb. 6 registered at 7.8-magnitude and 7.5-magnitude and devastated the area. A 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the area on Feb. 20, followed by an aftershock at 5.8-magnitude.

The death toll attributed to the Feb. 6 earthquakes has already surpassed 47,000, while thousands of residents are homeless and are taking shelter in tents to ward off the cold.

Another earthquake struck Türkiye and Syria at a 6.4-magnitude on Monday, Feb. 20. The new quake further damaged the infrastructures and populations of Türkiye and Syria. (USGS Earthquake Hazards Program)

Various countries, including the U.S., immediately sent aid to the affected areas as thousands of local residents waited for rescue under rubble. Basic aid such as food and shelter are still difficult for some locals to attain despite the rescue efforts.

“Most people in the area are homeless now. They’re either having to live with friends outside of the area or they have encampments now. And access to clean water and electricity has been very limited,” Nicholas Heil, a BYU student who served a year of his two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Turkey, said.

Heil keeps contact with those he met while serving.

Nicholas Heil discusses the importance of donating and the situation in Syria. (Joshua Rust)

Cherrington and Heil both said the best thing BYU students can do to help is to donate to causes like Hope Humanitarian.

The economic and political futures of the Middle Eastern countries are at stake as well, according to Heil.

“There will be a lot of need for rebuilding in the future. Turkey is already in a vulnerable spot economically even without the earthquakes,” Heil said.

The extensive damage to Turkey’s infrastructure can also be traced to lax building codes that have created a stir in national politics. About 131 people, including local and national politicians from Turkey, are under investigation.

In Syria, the conflicts surrounding the Assad regime continue and the earthquake could hurt the rebel cause, BYU Middle Eastern studies professor Joshua Gubler said.

“One of the great tragedies of the earthquake at present is that rebel-held areas in the north of Syria bordering Turkey, which had been hard hit, are unable to receive aid as a result of the political divide,” Gubler said.

(CNN Newsource/Karadsheh)
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