Santa Barbara-based international disaster relief organization ShelterBox is responding to the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria, drawing on its experience providing humanitarian aid after earthquakes in the region.

ShelterBox is sending an assessment team to the region to work with local partners to determine what support is needed. ShelterBox specializes in providing customized emergency shelter and other life-saving household supplies immediately following disasters and in conflict zones.

“These tragic earthquakes have caused historic destruction in an area already home to many displaced individuals,” said Kerri Murray, president of ShelterBox USA. “Thousands of buildings and homes have collapsed.

“As search and rescue crews continue to look for survivors, ShelterBox is sending an assessment team and working with our partners in the region to find the best way to help.”

The earthquakes are the worst to hit Turkey in 100 years. The first 7.8 magnitude quake struck Turkey close to the Syrian border in the early morning Monday local time, when many were sleeping. Minutes later, a second 6.7 magnitude aftershock struck, followed by a third 7.5 magnitude quake in the same region. 

So far, the temblors have killed more than 5,000 people and flattened thousands of buildings, rendering homes unsafe. Turkey and Syria have declared a state of emergency and requested international assistance.

As the search and rescue phase continues, humanitarian efforts are complicated by powerful aftershocks, below freezing temperatures, and snow, factors likely to increase the humanitarian need in the region, and create challenges for supply chain and delivering aid.

That’s why ShelterBox prepositions aid around the world, including in Syria.

“Emergency responses to a disaster of this scale can be a huge logistical nightmare especially against the clock,” said Alice Jefferson, ShelterBox’s head of emergency response.

“Freezing temperatures and heavy rain are causing extra complications,” she said. “The poor weather poses a real threat to life for people whose homes are now rubble or unsafe to return to.”

Turkey sits in a seismically active zone, and ShelterBox has responded to earthquakes in the region previously. In 2011, it responded to the Van earthquake in eastern Turkey, which killed more than 600.

ShelterBox also has experience in northern Syria, with more than 10 years working with local partners to support those displaced by Syria’s civil war, including specialized programs providing winter shelter and aid items.

ShelterBox has launched an emergency appeal to fund its response to the earthquakes. To learn more, visit