Government’s donor matching program applies to Canadians donating to the Red Cross for the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and Syria
OTTAWA – With the death toll still rising in Turkey and Syria, a coalition of humanitarian groups wants the government to expand its matching contribution program to more than just one international agency.
The government announced a matching donations program shortly after the earthquake with the government matching up to $10 million that Canadians donate to the Red Cross for the catastrophic earthquake.
An estimated 40,000 people have been killed in the quake which rattled southern Turkey and northern Syria. The 7.8 magnitude quake was followed by several powerful aftershocks and the initial tremor came in the middle of the night when many people were still asleep.
Richard Morgan, executive director of the Humanitarian Coalition, said so much time having passed the death toll will unfortunately only increase, as people trapped are less likely to be found alive.
“I’m really sad to say it’s going to continue to rise because we’re very tragically coming near the end of the period where you’re going to continue getting a lot of good news stories,” he said.
Morgan’s group includes several major Canadian charities including Care Canada, World Vision, Islamic Relief, Oxfam and Save the Children. He said most of his members are on the ground in both Turkey and Syria and would benefit considerably if the government would expand its matching program to include more than the Red Cross.
“We have strict membership criteria in terms of who can join the coalition and they have a demonstrated ability to be transparent and to deliver effective, efficient programming.
Geneviève Tremblay, a spokesperson for Global Affairs said when they decide to launch a matching fundraising campaign, they look for groups that are ready to respond.
“When deciding whether to launch a matching fund, Global Affairs Canada gives consideration to the ability and desire of the national or local authorities to manage the response, the capacity of local actors to respond and whether there is a coordinated humanitarian response to support on the ground,” she said in an email.
She said they worked quickly to get a response in place and felt at the time Red Cross was the best way to go forward.
“At the time of the launch, 48 hours after the earthquakes occurred, the choice was made to support the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement through the Canadian Red Cross to build on existing coordination mechanisms, support local capacity and respond to identified needs in both Turkey and Syria.”
Morgan said the Red Cross does excellent work, but the charities that are part of his coalition are also on the ground providing real support and would benefit from the matching donation program the government is offering.
“All of our member agencies work with local partners like independent, locally developed organizations, or we have local offices staffed by local nationals,” he said.
Reyhana Patel, director of communications for Islamic Relief, one of the coalition’s charity’s partners, said they would benefit from the additional funds for their operations in Turkey and Syria.
“We’ve raised quite a few million dollars already. But with a matching fund we could do so much more,” she said.
Patel said much of the news on the tragedy so far has come out of Turkey but she fears it will only grow more grim when more reports come out of Syria.
“You have to remember the people that were affected by the earthquake, specifically in Syria, were the ones that are fleeing anyway from the conflict. They’ve already lost their homes once, a lot of them, and now they are again.”
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