Turkiye and Syrian Earthquake

Turkiye and Syrian Earthquake

How to choose which charities to support?

Doctors Without Borders / MSF Canada 

Be informed. Here is the information posted on Doctors Without Borders / MSF Canada's website

Here is Charity Intelligence's report on Doctors Without Borders / MSF Canada, a 5-star High impact charity

IDRF Canada - International Development and Relief Foundation

Here is the information posted on IDRF Canada's website specifically for the Turkey and Syrian earthquake response

Here is Charity Intelligence's report on IDRF Canada, a 5-star Good impact charity


Disaster response is the hardest area to give to intelligently. There is so little information. The charities responding have no reports or plans on how they will respond or how much this disaster response will cost.

These are the factors we consider:

  1. Which charities were working in Turkiye (formerly Turkey) or Syria before the earthquake? These charities will be on the ground and have local partnerships. Given Syria’s long civil war and the brutality of the Assad regime, few charities work inside Syria. Donations to Canadian Red Cross should be transferred over to Turkiye Red Crescent and to Syrian Red Crescent, that is the Syrian government’s partner non-government organization. 
  2. For earthquakes, which charities have the specialization that best matches the need on the ground? Earthquakes typically have complex medical needs like broken and crushed bones. MSF/Doctors Without Borders has the best track record in disaster responses like this from its response to the Nepal earthquake in 2015 and the Haiti earthquake in 2010.
  3. Large Canadian charities are better to support. In disaster response, which is distinctly different from development work, global NGOs have the logistics to respond quickly that smaller, volunteer, local Canadian charities simply don't have.
  4. Focus on charities that support all people, rather than a focus on children or the elderly. In this disaster response, aid must go evenly to local people and Syrian refugees inside Turkiye. If disaster aid focuses on Syrian refugees it could inflame tensions. One also needs to consider that Turkiye and Syria are Muslim countries. Muslim charities may be the most appropriate, like IDRF, a 5-star charity.

Always, cash donations through the charities' websites are best, or reputable payment platforms like CanadaHelps or Paypal. Make a one-time donation, rather than monthly. Please do not donate stuff.

We will update this report with additional news.

Kahramanmaras Earthquake

In the early hours of February 6, 2023 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Southern and Central Turkiye which also affected regions of North-Western Syria. A second earthquake of 7.5 magnitude happened almost 12 hours later. The epicentre of the earthquake is the town of Gaziantep, in southern Turkiye. This is a seismically active area where earthquakes are common as it is on the East Anatolian Fault Line. Turkiye has had many earthquakes. The last big one was in 1999 and it killed 17,100 people and destroyed or badly damaged over 96,000 homes. There was a strong international response to help Turkiye's recovery. Turkiye's last 7.8 magnitude earthquake happened in 1939, the Erzincan earthquake.

Turkiye is a member of NATO and is considered a well-functioning country with building codes and regulations that make buildings more durable in earthquakes. Turkiye has a Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency to prepare and manage disaster responses. This will likely be the lead organization coordinating Turkiye's disaster response. 

The Syrian Civil War complicates this disaster response. Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, an estimated 3.7 million Syrian refugees live in Turkiye, many in this southern and central region. (UNHCR Refugee statistics 2021). These Syrian refugees have few resources to recover and were already vulnerable. In addition, another 2.7 million internally-displaced Syrians live in the North-Western area of Syria where there is a stalemate between rebel and government forces. This Syrian province relies on international aid trucked across the border with Turkiye though just one border crossing. The earthquake has rendered this crossing unusable. Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, is considered a war criminal by many which may hamper offers of international aid to Syria. Western aid may also be deterred by Syria's strong alliance with Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. The New York Times alleges there are also jihadist organizations in North Western Syria that may make funders wary. 


There are comments about building code regulations. Building codes can only do so much to prevent deaths and injury, especially in densely populated areas with older buildings that are cherished for their historic architecture. For context, San Fransisco's 1989 earthquake had a magnitude of 6.9 and caused extensive damage in a large Western city. Turkiye's 7.8 magnitude earthquake is ten times more powerful. Apartment buildings collapsed 100 km away from the epicentre.

This Turkiye earthquake is similar in strength to Nepal's 2015 earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude. Haiti's 2010 earthquake had a 7.0 magnitude. 


Lessons learnt

Charity Intelligence's 2018 follow-up report: Nepal three years later. This report evaluates the disaster response of Canadian charities to the Nepal earthquake in April 2015. We believe a charity's track record is the best indication of how it will perform in future disaster responses. One key difference this time is Turkiye's higher development and capacity for disaster recovery than Nepal's weak government. Canadians, individually and through our government, gave over $113 million in the Nepal earthquake response.


This time

Donors need to evaluate their giving and examine how our giving can be better. We strive to do better. We learn so that we can give better this time.

Generosity alone is not enough. One must always ask if our giving did the most good possible. To answer this question, comparisons are needed. For example, in the Nepal Earthquake response, Global Affairs Canada's $64 million donation to UNHCR could have built 6,400 homes as was accomplished by the local Nepalese charity, Dhurmas Suntali Foundation. This would have housed 29,000 people, many of whom may still be living in plastic tents three years after the earthquake.

We don't need to give more money for disaster aid to be more effective, we just need to give better.


Legal disclaimer: The information in this report was prepared by Charity Intelligence Canada and its independent analysts from publicly available information. Charity Intelligence and its analysts have made endeavours to ensure that the data in this report is accurate and complete but accepts no liability.

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Charity Intelligence researches Canadian charities for donors to be informed and give intelligently. Our website posts free reports on more than 800 Canadian charities, as well as in-depth primers on philanthropic sectors like Canada’s environment, cancer, and homelessness. Today over 500,000 Canadians use our website as a go-to source for information on Canadian charities reading over 1.6 million charity reports. Through rigorous and independent research, Charity Intelligence aims to assist Canada’s dynamic charitable sector in being more transparent, accountable and focused on results.


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