Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Oct 02nd
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Home Feature Stories 2023 Earthquake in Turkiye and Syria Tzu Chi Collaborates with U.N. Organizations to Assist Disaster Victims in Hatay, Turkiye

Tzu Chi Collaborates with U.N. Organizations to Assist Disaster Victims in Hatay, Turkiye

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On February 16, Tzu Chi's disaster relief team arrived in Hatay Province in the far south of Turkiye. After conducting a thorough evaluation, they quickly decided to establish a disaster response center in Hatay to assist the affected areas. In order to effectively help the victims, Tzu Chi promptly visited the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Office and took part in an inter-organizational coordination meeting. In addition, the team visited other charitable organizations to explore more opportunities for collaboration and joint assistance.


The earthquake occurred in the border area between Turkiye and Syria, causing terrible damage. In Turkiye, over 8,000 houses were destroyed. Those affected are temporarily staying with relatives or in tents provided by the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency. Each tent can accommodate  10 to 12 people, but they do not provide sufficient protection against the cold wind. To keep warm, people must burn firewood outdoors.

The main reason to set up the disaster response center in Hatay Province is due to its safe geographical location. It is estimated that it will take only two hours from Hatay to reach heavily affected areas, such as Gaziantep Province and other disaster-hit areas.

Relief team starts joint efforts in the disaster zone

On February 18, Tzu Chi’s disaster relief team led by Simon Shyong, Vice CEO of Tzu Chi Foundation, went to another heavily affected area, Nurdagi in Gaziantep Province. When they arrived, the governor, Osman Bilgin, was inspecting the tent area.

The seven members of the team met the governor in his car to learn about the situation in Nurdagi. They were informed that the town had a population of 40,000 and had been severely affected by the disaster -- a death toll of 2,500, which represented 6% of the population. This made Nurdagi one of the hardest hit areas.

After learning of Tzu Chi's relief plan, the governor expressed interest in collaborating to distribute aid to 12,000 households. He said blankets were not needed, and that gift cards would be more useful. He pledged to provide needed information, such as a list of affected people. The government has already invested in constructing containers and permanent houses, with the aim of completing them within a year. However, the governor hopes that Tzu Chi can build a "Taiwan Village" specifically for disaster victims. To provide clear requirements for the construction, the governor will need ten days to compile the necessary information.

The chief of Karkamış district, Mr. Furkan Çakır, was looking forward to collaborating with Tzu Chi in disaster relief efforts in the future. After the meeting with the governor, he immediately further discussed the details of the relief with Tzu Chi.

After their initial efforts, the Tzu Chi relief team visited the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to coordinate their relief efforts with those of other organizations. The U.N. welcomed Tzu Chi's participation in inter-organizational coordination meetings and offered to provide maps and information about the affected areas and tent sites. Additionally, the U.N. has representatives in each province of the Turkish disaster area who can assist Tzu Chi in understanding the situation of affected individuals and coordinate with the Turkish government and other organizations.

The relief team also visited a local charity organization, SENED, in Gaziantep. It has warehouses in Adana and Gaziantep provinces that can be made available for Tzu Chi's use. SENED is willing to assist with inventory and collaborate on distribution. Tzu Chi plans to collaborate with SENED to aid 3,000 affected households.

In summary, Tzu Chi, a Buddhist charity organization from Taiwan, has collaborated with NGOs in different fields to help earthquake victims in Turkiye. The power of shared goodness is immense, and it is heartening to see love in action.


Source: Tzu Chi disaster relief team and Tzu Chi Charity Foundation, 2023/2/20