Dear GICS community,
We are writing to share our heartbreak and concern after the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey and Syria last week. The scale of the disaster is unimaginable, spanning an area the size of France, 10 provinces in southern Turkey and also northern Syria, a very fragile area already challenged by civil conflict.
I am personally thankful that my family is not in the affected area of the country. This has hit close to home as we had previously lived through the 1999 Marmara earthquakes in western Turkey during which many family and friends were narrowly spared, escaping unstable building structures and living through the reconstruction. I spent three months with relief organizations in the region for medical and social support and during the longer-term rebuilding, and it is very difficult to see these same scenes playing out again.
There has been a significant local and international response. You may consider supporting the following groups:
Syrian American Medical Society: long-term ongoing medical support for northern Syria and Syrian refugees
Ahbap: locally led grass roots Turkish community organization
AKUT: Turkish non-government Search and Rescue Group that grew after the 1999 earthquakes
Mercy Without Limits: humanitarian support for northern Syria and Syrian refugees
In addition, we have direct links with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality working in relief in Hatay in southern Turkey. They are bringing a passenger boat to house displaced families and are providing direct support to families in the coming days and weeks – if you wish to contribute through that mechanism please let me know.
We have been in touch with collaborators in southern Turkey providing support for displaced Syrian refugees, and GICS members and colleagues are there this week. GICS will continue discussions with other partners and sharing more information as the situation evolves. Please also let us know if you are working with colleagues in response or wish to support in a specific way. Sabina Siddiqui, GICS education lead, has kept a list of updates and involved people and groups here
Doruk Ozgediz, MD
Chair, Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery