World Relief Turkey Earthquake Update

Within 24 hours of the massive earthquake that struck Turkey in August, killing 17,000 and leaving 200,000 homeless, two World Relief staff met with Turkish church and ministry leaders to help them determine the best way to help earthquake survivors. The Turkish churches requested that World Relief use its expertise to help them manage their overall relief efforts.
World Relief worked with the Turkish Protestant Churches, comprised of the national evangelical churches, to initially distribute daily food rations and blankets to 2,500 survivors living out in the open near Izmit, the center of the quake. About 1,200 of the recipients were mothers with small children, who also received basic hygiene packs, milk and crackers.

Numerous other agencies are working together in this effort. Agencies channeling aid to World Relief for the work through churches include Dorcas Aid, the Netherlands Reformed Church, Operation Mercy, TEAR Fund Netherlands, TEAR Fund UK, World Relief Canada, World Vision Canada and World Vision US.

In a pivotal meeting arranged by the church leaders, the governor of an affected province asked World Relief, the agency presented by the churches, to erect and manage a relief camp.

Once tents were set up near Derince, World Relief purchased and set up commercially made two-room modular housing units to house displaced families during the harsh winter, until more permanent housing could be rebuilt. The local government cooperated by leveling and preparing the ground, connecting the camp to city water, installing electricity and providing security. Volunteers from local churches now welcome and orient newcomers to the camp as well as determine which families have specialized needs. The camp, which is managed by World Relief at the request of the Turkish church, will house up to 270 families. Church members are offering children's and social programs in a heated tent. A second camp, managed by World Relief, is in Serdivan. It houses 102 families.

When a second earthquake struck in the town of Duzce on November 12, 1999, a World Relief team and its partner, Northwest Medical Teams, worked through the night pulling victims from the rubble and providing medical care. World Relief provided prefabricated structures to the Turkish Ministry of Health for use as clinics. Duzce is now the site of a third World Relief camp, offering housing facilities for 140 displaced people. World Relief also provides classrooms, office facilities and teacher housing in three schools in Duzce.

"The presence of World Relief has assured that aid wouldn't simply be scattered abroad or dissolved carelessly into thin air," says Carlos Madrigal, pastor of Bostanci Church in Istanbul. "Now instead of each and every organization flashing its own flag to a society that has no idea who they are, it is clearly the indigenous Turkish church, with its own identity, that has been able to carry the aid to the victims."

World Relief is the international assistance arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.

For further information or to arrange interviews, contact Victoria Vass at (630) 665-0236, ext. 215, email vvass@wr.org or Linda Keys at: (630) 665-0236, ext. 202, e-mail: LKeys@wr.org.