Machiko OHARA, Ph.D.
President, Asia-Pacific Region,
International Federation of Social Workers
In the early morning hours of 6 February, a strong earthquake struck a wide area in south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria. A few hours later, a second major quake struck approximately 60 miles away from the earlier epicenter. More than 30,000 people have already been confirmed dead in the two countries, and the number continues to rise. There has been extensive damage to housing, public infrastructure, roads, and communication networks, making search and rescue operations extremely difficult.
IFSW has already started to provide support to the Turkish Association of Social Workers by collecting funds. Syria is part of our Asia-Pacific Region. Although it is currently not and IFSW member, we social workers have always worked regardless of ethnicity, national borders, as well as racial lines to help those in need.
Some of those affected within Syria have been forced to flee their homes due to the 12-year-long conflict in the country. They are living in unsafe buildings destroyed in attacks or in thin tents and shelters, leaving 5.3 million people homeless as of 10 February. Relief supplies and shelters are needed in the affected areas where the earthquake has destroyed homes and local infrastructure. There is also an urgent need to protect families from the icy winds, snow and rain as severe winter storms hit the region.
I discussed possible support to Syrian social workers with IFSW President Joachim Cuthbert Mumba and IFSW Secretary-General Rory Truell. Donations will be collected for both Turkey and Syria, and used to provide aid and medical supplies for survivors, as well as transport and accommodation costs to enable social workers and social work students to safely travel to the area. Aid efforts are permanently underfunded in Syria, with limited channels of assistance. We are asking for donations to help protect and support people affected by the disaster. We social workers hope that together we can promote social work activities in accordance with the principles of human rights and social justice.
To make donations to Syrian social workers, please send funds to the IFSW bank account, marked ‘Donation for Syrian social work’ in the bank transfer details. All donated funds will be directed to social workers in Syria.
The IFSW bank account is:
Bank Name: UBS SWITZERLAND AG
Address: Bubenbergplatz 3, 3011 Bern
Beneficiary Name: IFSW
Account Number (IBAN): CH17 0023 5235 5293 2001 R
SWIFT Code: UBSWCHZH80A