Santa Barbara-based ShelterBox USA is helping with relief efforts after Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake near Gaziantep, Turkey.
The earthquake and its aftershocks have impacted Turkey and Syria, which led to the response from ShelterBox, which provides shelters and other humanitarian relief for regions in crisis.
According to Kerri Murray, president of ShelterBox USA, the hardest part about this humanitarian crisis is that “So many people are already displaced … The region is already home to millions of refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) from the decade-long civil war in Syria. For many of the Syrian survivors of the earthquake, this is just the latest in a series of unthinkable tragedies. It is a true crisis within a crisis. ”
The civil war in Syria has killed 75,000 people and displaced tens of thousands. Before the earthquakes, around 4.1 million people in northwest Syria already relied on humanitarian aid.
In addition to this, Turkey has had seven earthquakes over a magnitude of 7.0 in the last 25 years.
However, due these strings of crises, ShelterBox USA has firsthand experience providing relief in these regions. ShelterBox USA was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 and 2019 for its work in Syria.
“We have been actively responding to the displacement needs of the Syrian crisis for over 11 years, have long-term partners in the region, an initial stock of relief supplies pre-positioned, experience working with displaced Syrian families in the cold winter months, and a deep understanding of the types of shelter and household needs that address displacement needs in the region,” Ms. Murray told the News-Press Tuesday.
“While the logistics are immensely challenging in an area where thousands of buildings have been reduced to rubble, and it’s still an active search and rescue situation, we remain committed to helping meet the urgent shelter and household needs.”
Although specific needs still need to be assessed, ShelterBox USA plans on providing family emergency tents, shelter tents, blankets and solar slights. It has also already deployed its emergency response team and will be on the ground soon.
“While activating this earthquake response was not something we anticipated one week ago, we know that we are uniquely suited to lend our support to this massive disaster,” Ms. Murray continued. “At the same time we are responding to this crisis, we are in the midst of large-scale shelter distributions in Ukraine, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Cameroon and more.
“Now more than ever, the work of ShelterBox is essential,” she said. “As a non-profit organization, it is critical we raise charitable donations to scale up our emergency shelter projects to reach more families across the world.
“We are launching an emergency fundraising appeal and hope the community will support our global humanitarian relief efforts,” Ms. Murray continued.
ShelterBox USA does not accept government funding, so charitable donations are essential to its work. Ms. Murray said she knows Santa Barbara is philanthropic and knows what it is like to be displaced, so she is hopeful that the community will help them help the world in crisis.