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Turkey-Syria earthquake: Global acts of solidarity offer hope amid devastation

People around the world have rallied to show their support, donating everything from pocket money to blood
Palestinians in Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip, attend a vigil for the people of Turkey and Syria (AFP)

The deadly 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes that struck Turkey’s Kahramanmaras province and shook Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine have affected around 23 million people. 

The death toll has passed 22,000 and tens of thousands of people have been injured. Around the world, people have seen horrific images of buildings crumbling and roads being torn open, as the death toll has continued to climb.

While search and rescue missions continue on the ground in Turkey and Syria, ordinary people have mobilised to offer their support in any way they can, offering a ray of hope amid the destruction. 

Here, we take a look at some of the acts of solidarity with those affected. 

1. Nine-year-old boy donates his pocket money

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A survivor of a 6.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey in November last year, nine-year-old Alparslan Efe Demir was determined to help when he heard the news of Monday's earthquakes. 

Along with a handwritten letter, which he gave to Red Crescent staff, Demir donated a money box of his savings. 

turkey boy
Alparslan Efe Demir, nine, is an earthquake survivor himself (Omer Urer/AA)

After the November 2022 earthquake, the young boy and his family were forced to live in a tent.

Photographed here with Red Crescent employees, Demir made headlines for his act of kindness. He told rescue workers that he knows what it feels like to be scared following an earthquake.

2. Solidarity vigils in US, Pakistan and UK 

As the news left millions of people around the world feeling helpless and shocked at the images coming from Turkey and Syria, a number of countries organised vigils to honour and pay their respects to those who lost their life. 

In Washington, DC over 50 people of different nationalities gathered for a candlelit vigil organised by Syrian-Americans to show their solidarity with those affected.

A minute's silence was also observed, while people present were encouraged to donate and support those in need in whatever way they could. 

Candlelit vigils were held in Pakistan and the UK, where over 100 people gathered to pay tribute to the victims. The London event was organised by the Syria Solidarity Campaign.

3. Iraq sends donations 

In Iraq, the Red Crescent sent 150 paramedics to Turkey to assist with search and rescue efforts. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan region announced that it had sent around 20 tonnes of medicine to Turkey. 

The Directorate of Migration and Displacement in the Dohuk governorate launched a donation campaign.

“Committees have been formed to receive donations from people, and we have opened up 40 centres throughout the region,” the directorate's Warvin Sabah told Middle East Eye.

"Most of the people who came to donate are poor themselves. Some of them donated 10,000 Iraqi dinars [around $7] and even 50,000 Iraqi dinars. There were also children donating and showing great solidarity with those affected,” she added.

People gathered to donate blankets and clothes, inundating centres with stacks of bags filled with winter essentials to help those suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake. 

4. People in Gaza queue to donate blood

As the death toll climbed into the thousands following the earthquake, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) launched a blood donation campaign in the Gaza Strip.

Reports stated that many volunteers queued up to give blood at the al-Amal Hospital in the Khan Younis neighbourhood in southern Gaza. The blood drive lasted for two days.

donate blood turkey
Palestinians in Gaza donate blood for those affected in the Turkey-Syria earthquakes (Screengrab/Al-Jarmaq News)

PRCS also sent rescue teams to Syria to search for survivors under the rubble. Local media reported that the teams were able to rescue two Palestinian refugees who were stuck under the rubble of a building in the Al-Raml refugee camp in Latakia for days. 

Hundreds of Palestinians also performed funeral prayers at the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem, for the victims of the earthquakes.

5. Taiwan sends rescue team 

In a video shared online, rescue personnel from Taiwan were shown arriving in Turkey to help with search efforts.

“We sent two groups of people, the first is made up of 40 people, the second is made up of 90 people,” one of the team members explains in the video.

With equipment such as camera detectors to see if people are still alive under the rubble, the team started work right away.  

“About 20 years ago there was a big earthquake in Taiwan, and at that moment Turkey sent out a rescue team, and we still remember that… now this time it’s our turn to help,” the team member added. 

Many people praised their efforts online. 

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