The Prince and Princess of Wales thank those involved in aid and fundraising efforts following earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

The Prince and Princess of Wales thank those involved in aid and fundraising efforts following earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

Following the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria The Prince and Princess of Wales meet aid workers to hear about the immediate help and longer term plans to help children and families affected.

Their Royal Highnesses thank local fundraisers who have been raising money for the DEC Turkey-Syria earthquake appeal.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) announce the Turkey-Syria appeal has now raised more than £121 million since it launched exactly one month ago. 

Their Royal Highnesses today [9 March 2023] visited Hayes Muslim Centre to thank those involved in the aid effort and local fundraisers who have helped communities affected by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. 

After the initial two earthquakes on Monday February 6, a third earthquake hit two weeks on with a magnitude of 6.4 in Hatay in Turkey, followed by an aftershock of 5.8, causing more buildings to collapse in Turkey and Syria. It is estimated that more than 50,000 people have now died and colossal damage has been caused to housing, infrastructure, schools, and hospitals. The UN estimates that 10.1 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. [OCHA]

In response on 9 February, The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched the Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, which now totals more than £121 million thanks to the generosity of the UK public. The total includes donations from Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort and Their Royal Highnesses The Prince and Princess of Wales, as well as £5 million matched by the UK Government through the UK Aid Match scheme.  

The funds are already providing urgent relief for people affected by the earthquakes. DEC charities have been helping people in both Turkey and Syria by providing emergency shelter, medical care, hot food and food parcels, blankets, bedding and other household items, clean water and safe spaces for children. More details are available here. 

During the visit The Prince and Princess met with representatives from the Hayes Muslim Centre who, through bucket collections and other donations after prayers, have raised over £25,000 for DEC’s Turkey-Syria appeal including over £17,000 raised on the first day. 

Their Royal Highnesses also met with representatives from DEC member charities, including aid workers who have recently returned from the crisis zone in Turkey. 

Salah Aboulgasem, from Islamic Relief’s Emergency Response Team said:

“I arrived in Turkey to the worst scenes of destruction I’ve ever witnessed. I met with so many families whose lives were destroyed in an instant.  From the onset of the disaster, Islamic Relief teams were on the ground providing instant support, including cash vouchers which are crucial in enabling families to make basic purchases, with dignity.”

Other aid workers who met with The Prince and Princess of Wales included Dan Stewart from Save The Children, recently returned from Hatay in Turkey, plus aid experts Alison McNulty, Operations Director from Action Against Hunger, Mazen Alhousseiny, from Help Age, the local partner of DEC member charity Age International and Inma Lopez De La Cova Pena from the British Red Cross.

Together they discussed with Their Royal Highnesses the impact of the disaster on vulnerable groups, such as children and older people and the importance of the incoming aid that is being provided including shelter, food and vital trauma care.

Finally, The Prince and Princess met other communities who have made considerable efforts to fundraise as part of the appeal. This included the Turkish Women’s Association, an organisation based in Richmond, who partnered with the local community and a number of Richmond schools to raise more than £10,000 for the appeal with an event at St Stephen's Church Primary School at the end of February. Stalls at the event included Turkish coffee, homemade bakes and origami crane making run by pupils from Waldegrave School in Twickenham. 

The Prince and Princess of Wales joined two pupils from Waldegrave School; Dila Kaya, 14, Lina Alkutubi, 15, and their teacher Natasha Rustam to help make an origami crane, a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times. 

Dr Yeliz Atik, one of the organisers from the Turkish Families in Richmond said: “When we heard about the devastating earthquake, we felt compelled to assist those affected. We started to collect aid to dispatch to Türkiye via trucks and planes, but logistical challenges in the earthquake zone forced us to discontinue sending goods. One of our team, Fulya Sensu, inspired us by saying "If you can't send it, you can sell it," which motivated us to involve the local community, schools, and businesses and fundraise.

“With DEC's collaboration, we have been able to reach and provide aid to those impacted by the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria and we plan to hold more fundraising events in Richmond in the future.”

Dila Kaya, 14, from Waldegrave School said: “From a very young age, I used to watch cranes when they were migrating. My mother always says that cranes have a very long life span and bring blessings and peace to the land they fly over. I want to believe that this is true. 

“Thinking about cranes always made me feel very good. The night of the earthquake, when I was very sad, I remembered the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which I read when I was very young. It said that anyone who made 1,000 cranes would have one wish granted. 

“I knew friends of my age were trapped under the rubble for hours. Many of my friends had lost relatives, mothers and grandfathers. We started folding cranes and praying all night long. We still continue to fold cranes. Because we need more birds and prayers for our wish.”

Saleh Saeed, Chief Executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said: “The Royal family is always incredibly supportive when the DEC has to launch an urgent appeal to help communities affected by a large-scale disaster. 

“We were delighted to welcome Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess of Wales to Hayes Muslim Centre today to hear from our returning aid workers about the shocking impact of the earthquakes on the lives of people in both Syria and Turkey and the crucial humanitarian assistance that is being provided by the DEC.  It was also inspiring to showcase to Their Royal Highnesses a couple of fantastic community fundraising efforts here today. 

“The devastation to lives caused by the earthquakes in just seconds is hard to comprehend. The people in Turkey and Syria will need our help to rebuild their lives for many months to come. We are deeply grateful to people across the country who have supported this appeal.


Notes to editors: 

Media enquiries 

Karen Garvin on 07971 576917 or Press office 020 7387 0200 or 07734 653616 (out of hours).     

Spokespeople from the affected areas are available for media interview. 

A collection of images and video footage of the aftermath of the earthquake, including the recent earthquakes in Hatay, and DEC charities responding is available here.     

Syria - examples of how DEC charities are helping include:

  • Action Aid’s emergency response began the day after the earthquake, distributing food and shelter, warm clothes, blankets, supporting search and rescue efforts, providing fuel to power temporary shelters and health clinics and providing psychosocial support for children. It is now expanding its response to cover central and coastal affected areas. 
  • Age International is working through local partners to deliver food, health assistance, cash transfers, protection programming and capacity strengthening across various regions of north-west Syria. Through local partner Action for Humanity the charity is providing emergency food rations and emergency kits of blankets, mattresses and hygiene kits. Through local partner SEMA the charity is giving 7,000 people emergency cash payments and tents. It is providing hospital treatment to those injured, with its own staff among the patients being treated in intensive care. 
  • Christian Aid is focusing on rural areas in Syria. They have helped set up collective shelters in some of the worst-affected areas, distributing blankets, mattresses, food parcels and heating materials, including 40,000 winterisation kits, and providing psychosocial support. The charity is also working to reunite children with family where possible and otherwise refer them to other services, and to meet children’s basic needs with warm clothes, food and stationery. 
  • International Rescue Committee’s emergency response began the same day the earthquake hit with the deployment of surge teams to provide life-saving interventions in affected areas of north-west Syria. The charity will work directly and with partners to get essential health services including hospitals up and running again and run mobile health clinics. It will also set up safe spaces for women and children and provide multipurpose cash to ensure people’s basic needs are met. 
  • Oxfam is focused on the critical need for safe, clean water: already trucking 182,000 litres of water to 26,000 people in 17 collective centres and working to provide transformers, pumps, pipelines, valves, communal water tanks to ensure a safe water supply on an ongoing basis. It is also working to restore the sewage system and further support cholera prevention with hygiene kits and education. It has transported 9 teams of 18 local engineers to assess houses, and plans to provide emergency cash, non-food items and provide shelter. 
  • Tearfund was able to respond through its existing local partners – faith-based organisations whose buildings became sanctuaries when the earthquakes hit. The charity’s response will focus on delivering non-food items, protection, and disaster risk reduction work.
  • World Vision has delivered 17,000 litres of fuel for medical facilities and rescue teams, given heaters and fuel to 9,630 people in emergency shelters, provided medical treatment to 57,000 people and ready-to-eat meals to 11,490. The charity was able to reallocate resources from existing programmes run with local partners in the affected area to deliver a rapid response.

Turkey - examples of how DEC charities are helping: 

  • Action Against Hunger has deployed emergency response teams in affected locations. Their local partner has been distributing shelter, heaters, tents and hygiene items and has built a community kitchen on a football pitch.
  • British Red Cross is working through the Turkish Red Crescent to distribute prepositioned supplies in the country. Working in Kahramanmaraş, Adıyaman, Kilis, Şanlıurfa, Diyarbakır, Adana, Hatay, Osmaniye, Gaziantep and Malaty, they are focusing on food provision (hot meals, catering trucks, food parcels, water bottles), shelter (tents, sleeping mats, blankets) and health (blood donations, mental health teams).
  • CARE International is delivering emergency shelter, water, sanitation, and hygiene, and winter clothes, blankets and ready-to-eat meals in Turkey. With a primary focus on scaling up existing programmes in Hatay and Urfa, the charity has delivered 16 tons of flour to Şanlıurfa municipality in Eyyubiye. They will also focus on safe spaces for women and girls. 
  • Concern has prioritised support for heating and shelter, distributing kits, blankets and hot food. It is focusing on Sanliurfa, Adiyaman, Hatay, Diyarbarkir, Kahraman Maras, Gaziantep, Malatya.
  • Islamic Relief are focusing their work on Gazentiep, Kilis, Hatay and Kahramanmaraş. They are distributing blankets, tents, food and water, and medical assistance.
  • Save the Children is providing hot meals to hundreds of people sheltering in sports centres. More broadly, they are providing relief items including blankets, hygiene kits, mattresses, tents, water tanks, stoves, baby clothes and toilets. The charity is also helping children to cope with trauma through psychosocial support groups.

About the DEC: The DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities at times of crisis overseas to raise funds quickly and efficiently. In these times of crisis, people in life-and-death situations need our help and our mission is to save, protect and rebuild lives through effective humanitarian response. The DEC’s 15 member charities are: Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.        

Fourteen of the DEC’s 15 members are either responding or planning to respond in Turkey and Syria and will receive funds from this appeal. Some may work through trusted local partners. They are Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.       

Hayes Muslim Centre - is a vibrant and multi-ethnic community where people gather for prayers, worship, education and seminars, share information and advice from service providers, host tours for schools and visitors, inter-faith events and much more. The Hayes Muslim Centre has also supported DEC appeals in the past including the Pakistan Floods appeal and the Afghanistan crisis appeal in 2021. 

UK Aid Match - Through UK Aid Match the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) gives the British public the opportunity to have a say in how the UK aid budget is spent whilst boosting the impact of the very best British charities to change and save the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.      

UK Aid Match has increased the impact of a number of DEC appeals to help those in need around the world, including most recently Pakistan Floods Appeal and Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, both in 2022.  The UK matched up to £25 million of public donations to DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal - the largest commitment ever made to a DEC appeal through UK Aid Match.     

Enquiries about UK Aid Match and UK Government support for Turkey/Syria should be directed to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Newsdesk. Please email 

How to donate:         

  • Online:       
  • Phone: 0370 60 60 610      
  • Text to give/SMS: for press releases: text SUPPORT to 70787 to donate £10. Other partners should use the specific text codes they have been provided with by the DEC.      
  • Donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque by post to: DEC Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal, PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA.