Federal Way charity sends relief for Syria and Turkey earthquakes

Feb 9, 2023, 7:34 AM | Updated: 6:05 pm
Turkey earthquake...
ELBISTAN, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 09: Rescue teams, firmen and volunteers work on a collapsed building to evacuate a victim on February 9, 2023 in Elbistan, Turkey. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit near Gaziantep, Turkey, in the early hours of Monday, followed by another 7.5-magnitude tremor just after midday. The quakes caused widespread destruction in southern Turkey and northern Syria and were felt in nearby countries. (Photo by Mehmet Kacmaz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mehmet Kacmaz/Getty Images)

A Federal Way-based charity, World Vision, has been in Syria and Turkey, providing relief and assisting refugees from all kinds of disasters, from tsunamis to famine to earthquakes, for years.

So, they were able to be among the first global agencies to help victims of the devastating earthquakes that have so far taken more than 16,000 lives.

Turkey, Syria earthquake kills thousands

Kristen Barredo, World Vision’s director of emergency programs, says crews from the organization are focusing on finding and creating housing for victims, helping them get food and water and medical attention.

“The buildings that are still standing are not stable, so they’re not able to go back in, even if their house is still standing,” says Barrado. “So we’re working on getting people warm shelter to stay in.”

She says more than 20 medical clinics in Turkey and Syria were destroyed by the earthquakes. Many of those are in Syria, where coordination has been difficult due to the country’s fragile political situation.

“Moving those supplies across the border into Northwest Syria is logistically very challenging,” Barrado says. “That’s why we’re very concerned needs [there] may go unmet.”

Other agencies have had difficulties getting to the quake-ravaged areas because of extensive damage to roads and transportation systems.

“The roads are blocked due to earthquake damage and heavy snow, and just the availability of goods across the border in Syria is much less than you see in Turkey.”

Fortunately, Barrado says World Vision was already on the border of Turkey and Syria, so they’ve been able to reach locations others have not been able to access.

“We’ve been working in this part of Turkey and Northwest Syria for the past seven years, so we had teams and staff on the ground when the earthquake happened.”

Their biggest need from the public is funding so they can locally source clothing, food, building supplies and other supplies needed by the victims.

Barredo says they’d rather spend money on supplies than on packing and finding ways to ship donated items from around the world to the earthquake victims.

She emphasized the greatest need in these devastated areas will come 90 days from now when many relief organizations have left.

“This is a long-term recovery effort,” she says, “and I think the needs will be there for quite some time.”

That’s when people will have to find ways to get back to work, restart their lives, and deal with the long-term consequences of losing much of what they used to own and call normal.

You can find a “Donate Now” button to give to the Turkey and Syria relief fund at worldvision.org.

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Federal Way charity sends relief for Syria and Turkey earthquakes