Emergency Relief in Turkey: A Jewish Response to Disaster

Disaster in Turkey:

Join the Jewish Response

When disaster strikes, JDC is there. Our emergency response team is already on the ground in Turkey and taking action – hand-in-hand with the local Jewish community, with whom we have worked for decades. When you support JDC, you are supporting a Jewish response to the devastation in Turkey with immediacy, precision, and scale.

Staggering Devastation, Intensifying Needs

As of February 7th, 4:00 p.m. local time in Turkey, JDC is one of the few international organizations that have managed to arrive to areas hardest hit by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and its many aftershocks. Our disaster relief expert and the director of our operations in Turkey are on-site, coordinating with local and incoming international partners to assess emerging needs among both Jewish and non-Jewish communities.

Frantic efforts on the ground are still focused on search and rescue, clearing massive piles of rubble from pancaked buildings and shattered cars, and addressing the immediate needs of people whose homes were destroyed or damaged. Many people are afraid to return home, worrying that further quakes are yet to come. People are sleeping in their cars, huddling in cafes, sitting outside on benches in the dust-filled, wintery air. Some are standing by collapsed buildings of family members, trying to keep hope alive as disaster crews work. Thousands of volunteers are desperately helping these crews with their ungloved hands. Hospitals are filling up with body bags and injured people, and the ambulances continue to arrive. The mood is a mix of shock, despair, and dwindling hope that missing loved ones will be found alive.

Our Emergency Efforts

JDC is planning its response from two angles:

1) Working together with the local Jewish community to meet urgent needs of members affected by the disaster. This includes caring for Jewish evacuees. In partnership with the Turkish Jewish community, JDC supported the evacuation of ten community members from Antakya to Istanbul, six of whom are elders who are now being sheltered at an old-age home. This effort was led by the community president and JDC-trained community volunteers. Going forward, we aim to support the care of these people for at least six months. Tragically, three community members are still missing.

2) Contributing our strength and unique value to the non-sectarian disaster relief efforts of other organizations. This includes providing:

    • Basic first aid kits
    • Thousands of tents and tent heaters
    • Tens of thousands of blankets and thermal clothing, primarily coats and boots
    • Prepared food for thousands of earthquake survivors

A Swift, Coordinated, and Comprehensive Response

JDC brings three key assets that maximize the effectiveness of the response in Turkey:

  • Expertise gained from decades of first response and long-term recovery work: JDC leads the global Jewish response to international development crises and heads the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR). Recent disaster responses include the 2022 flooding in Pakistan, the 2021 earthquake in Haiti, the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and Asia, natural disasters in Mozambique, the Bahamas, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Mexico. JDC also responded to earthquakes in Turkey in 1999, 2010 and 2011.
  • Deep partnerships with philanthropy and international organizations: JDC’s disaster relief programs are funded by foundations, federations, and individual donors worldwide. Our relief activities are coordinated with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Israeli relief efforts, and the United Nations, as well as local and international partners.
  • Longstanding support of, and cooperation with, the 15,000-person Jewish community in Turkey: JDC’s work with this community began after World War I, when we came to the aid of orphaned Jewish children. In 1992, we helped improve community-based social services and spur economic development. Additionally, we have provided first response and recovery to numerous natural and man-made disasters in Turkey.

You Can Help Now

Together with all partners, JDC is moving quickly to care for the immediate needs of the Jewish and non-Jewish survivors and implement a short-medium term recovery plan.

We seek $350,000 to support the immediate needs of the Jewish evacuees, and to contribute to life-saving non-sectarian relief and recovery efforts.

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