The federal government will match donations Canadians make to the Red Cross — up to $10 million — as relief efforts continue in Turkey and Syria following two devastating earthquakes.
The death toll has topped 11,000 after the 7.8 magnitude quake and its powerful aftershocks reduced buildings to rubble. Rescuers have scrambled to pull people from the wreckage, but as more time passes, calls for help have begun to grow silent.
Walking into a caucus meeting in Ottawa on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the images emerging from the region “horrific.”
“A lot of Canadians have their origins or family members in that region — I think particularly of all the Syrian refugees who’ve come to Canada over the past years to build a life who must be so worried about loved ones and families back home,” he said.
“We’re going to be there to help.”
Canada announced on Tuesday that it was sending $10 million in direct aid to the region, money Trudeau said is “flowing already” to partners in the region. But, he noted on Wednesday, “Canadians want to be helpful as well.”
“We’re announcing (we are) matching funds through the Red Cross up to $10 million so people can be generous and know that that help will be there,” Trudeau said.
You can make a donation online at donate.redcross.ca.
Canada’s “moral support” in the wake of the disaster has been appreciated, according to Kerim Uras, the Turkish ambassador to Canada, who spoke with Global News on Tuesday after the initial $10 million in support was announced.
“The support is really very heartwarming,” he said. “But we do need more help and the cold is working against us.
Search teams from more than two dozen countries have joined tens of thousands of local emergency personnel, and aid pledges have poured in from around the world.
But the scale of destruction from the 7.8 magnitude quake and its powerful aftershocks was so immense — and spread so wide, including in areas isolated by Syria’s ongoing civil war — that many are still waiting for help.
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Canada has yet to commit to putting boots on the ground in Turkey and Syria. But speaking on Tuesday, International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said “nothing” is off the table.”
“We’re also looking at various other options — medical teams, heavy urban search and rescue — and I know that also Minister Anand is looking at options for the (Disaster Assistance Response Team) DART as well,” Sajjan said.
When pressed for an update on the aid efforts on Wednesday, Trudeau had nothing firm to announce — even as the clock continues to tick for those buried in the rubble.
“From the very beginning we’ve been talking with our diplomatic staff our counterparts over there, working with the international community on getting as much help as needed, the right way, there,” Trudeau said.
“We are there to help, we’re just looking at how to best do it.”
— With files from The Associated Press
Corus Entertainment, the parent company of Global News, is supporting the Humanitarian Coalition in its appeal to help victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Donations can be made online.