Turkish, Syrian students call on Stanford community for support in wake of recent earthquake

Feb. 7, 2023, 11:30 p.m.

Stanford’s Turkish Student Association (TSA) is calling for support for affected communities following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck south-central Turkey near the Syrian border early Monday morning. 

“The tremors from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria were felt among all their neighboring countries, and the devastation is also felt in the hearts of our student body,” Arab Student Association of Stanford (ASAS) Co-President Ziyad Gawish ’23 told The Daily. 

The Turkish government has declared a level four state of emergency after the initial quake. A series of intense aftershocks of similar magnitudes followed shortly after: as of Tuesday evening, more than 90 aftershocks with magnitudes 4.5 or higher were recorded in surrounding regions, with the greatest reaching an unusually high magnitude of 7.5. More than 7,700 deaths have been reported so far, and harsh snowy conditions have rendered emergency relief difficult.

“None of us can sit still,” Defne Genç ’24, a Turkish student from Istanbul, shared with The Daily. Genç has previously worked at The Daily as a contributor to the humor section. “I’ve spent countless hours on Twitter during the past day. I see cries for help from people stuck under the rubble with barely any power left on their phones. I’ve read at least a hundred of these posts.”

The disaster struck Turkey amidst frigid winter temperatures, an economic depression, and a decades-long humanitarian crisis in Syria. The affected region in the southeast of Turkey is home to huge populations of Kurds, Syrian refugees and other religious and ethnic minorities that have been majorly impacted by the disaster.

“Economic depreciation has had people already on their knees prior to this event,” Genç said. “Now survivors have nothing.”

Genç also says that the government response has been excruciatingly slow. “Thousands of people who could have been rescued will be lost,” she said. Many Twitter users are saying they have been “orphaned” by their leaders.

Some 3,450 buildings have collapsed, according to the Turkish government, but other estimates say the number is higher, and the snowstorm plaguing southeast Turkey is making matters worse.  

“People are actually dying of hypothermia, if not the earthquake itself,” Turkish student Ecem Yilmazhaliloglu ’25 told The Daily.

Genç, along with the TSA and ASAS, has called for immediate donations for search and rescue as well as international aid: “In another 24 hours, those who were left in the cold and under downpour will already be gone,” Genç said. “And while some countries have already dispatched teams, I’m afraid they’re not enough.”

The Stanford TSA is organizing an aid campaign to support affected communities. 

“As a university community, we have always shown our compassion for those in need,” TSA President Barış Baran Gündoğdu ’23 wrote in an email to The Daily. “At this point, all we can do is support local organizations who are trying their best to help people.” 

The TSA, ASAS and other students recommended the following list of Turkish and Syrian relief organizations to donate to:

  • Ahbap is a local voluntary network of 200 philanthropists and 30,000 volunteers that is currently active in the affected areas. Donations can be made directly through their website (the language can be changed on the bottom menu). 
  • AKUT is a voluntary, non-governmental organization involved in searching, assisting and rescuing the victims of earthquakes. 
  • Doctors without Borders provides international humanitarian assistance in countries affected by natural disasters.
  • MOLHAM Team is hosting an Emergency Earthquake Response Campaign.
  • The UN Syria Humanitarian Fund is one of the UN’s country-based pooled funds. Contributions are collected into a single, un-earmarked fund and managed locally under UN leadership. As crises evolve, funds are made directly and immediately available to a wide range of partner organizations at the front lines of response. 
  • SOS Chrétiens d’Orient is an apolitical NGO working in the heart of the secured areas of the Middle East since 2013. Donations can be made to ‘Projects in Syria’ to support relief.
  • Bakkal is picking up material donations of blankets, tents, sleeping bags, pocket warmers, winter clothing, and over-the-counter medications from around the Bay Area and delivering them to the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles.

The Markaz Resource Center in collaboration with ASAS and several other student groups is planning to host a processing space on Wednesday evening. 

“It is important to remember that in times like these, we must also take care of ourselves and each other,” Gawish shared on behalf of the ASAS. “If you or anyone you know needs support, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here for you.”

A previous version of this article linked accounts from a mobile payment service as a means to donate to the local voluntary network Ahbap. TSA students have clarified that donations should be made through the Ahbap website. The Daily regrets this error.

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