Search and rescue efforts in Aleppo, Syria. Photo submitted by the Canadian Red Cross. Search and rescue efforts in Aleppo, Syria. Photo submitted by the Canadian Red Cross.

Red Cross launches appeal to help with efforts in Turkey and Syria

Local residents touched by the disaster in Turkey and Syria can help out through the Canadian Red Cross.

The humanitarian organization has launched an appeal for funds to assist with emergency relief efforts following Monday's powerful earthquakes, that have killed over 5,000 people and injured thousands more.

Head of Region for Middle East and North Africa Red Cross Breanne England said the priority right now is search and rescue and saving lives.

"In addition to search and rescue, you have thousands of people who are homeless right now, who have no ability to provide food for themselves or their family, they don't have adequate shelter and the temperatures in these locations go down to minus 5 C at some points and there's snow," said England. "So you imagine a family who's displaced, isn't able to eat, doesn't have a shelter in these cold conditions and of course the psychological impact of what they've been through."

England said this is a compounding crisis.

"I've been going to Syria for the last ten years, and to Turkey," she said. "The humanitarian needs in Syria are greater now than they were 10 years ago. People may think the conflict is no longer in the news and it's not important, but in fact more than 90 per cent of Syrians live in poverty. There's a cholera outbreak, there's socio-economic challenges, winter conditions, and now this earthquake."

England said the Red Cross currently has about 1,000 volunteers on the ground in both countries and that they're working to coordinate emergency relief efforts, and get help to people in affected areas as soon as possible.

"So many individuals, children and families are trapped in the rubble," she said. "So in both Turkey and Syria, the Red Cross and other local responders are just trying to ensure proper search and rescue and saving as many lives as possible."

To donate visit, or your local Red Cross branch. You can also donate by phone by calling 1-800-418-1111.

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