LITTLE ROCK, Ark – In the week since deadly earthquakes rocked Turkey and Syria, killing thousands, Arkansas members of the Syrian Emergency Task Force said they are trying to help, but they are running into issues.
According to the Associated Press, the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and the series of shocks afterwards affected southeastern Turkey and northern Syria. The death toll has reportedly surpassed 35,000.
Arkansan Nalie Larrison is the Director of Humanitarian Programs for SETF. She said the organization was formed in March of 2011 and she joined in 2016. The cause, she said, was too great to ignore.
“The Syrian Emergency Task Force started as a response to the killing of innocent civilians who were protesting for their own rights in Syria in 2011,” Larrison said.
Larrison said since she has been a part of the group there have been more and more Arkansas team members and partners. When we asked her how many there were, her response was a high number.
“Oh my goodness, way over 100,” Larrison said.
Larrison said that days before the quakes, their teachers in Syria sent them supply lists.
“There were crafts and popsicle stick and glue and this week now there is emergency equipment [they need],” Larrison said.
She also said it has been an emotional time for team members since they have grown to have a personal relationship with them. Larrison adds that trying to aid those who have been affected has been challenging.
“There is only one border crossing for the UN [United Nations] and the aid is slow; the other border crossings have a lot of limitations on it,” Larrison explained.
She goes on to say the road conditions, now cracked because of the quakes, have also created obstacles.
“It’s around the affected areas in both Turkey and Syria, I mean they are cracked. This earthquake has been a nightmare,” Larrison said.
Members of the organization, including Larrison and Jerry Adams, one of their board members, said despite this they will continue to do their best to get to those that need their help and not give up.
“We provide hope to citizens, [who] for all reasons should have given up hope but haven’t. So, their resilience and commitment really motivates us,” Adams said.
Larrison said she plans to travel to Syria in the coming days to provide more aid.
She also said the biggest they’re in need of are donations in money and supplies. For those wanting to help, she suggests going to setf.ngo/donate.