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Civil society organisations can complement traditional humanitarian relief programmes, as they have track records within their societies and are trusted by citizens.

In these situations, local independent media also play a key role, providing on-the-ground timely coverage from what are often chaotic situations during natural or manmade disasters, informing affected people about the evolving situation, and holding local, national and international institutions accountable for their response.

In 2023, civil society and independent media responded to citizens’ needs and made sure that their voices were heard following the earthquake in Turkey and Syria in February.

Fayn: reporting from the ground to counter misinformation and hold authorities accountable

“Independent media outlets produce useful stories for the people affected by the disasters, hold those who neglect their responsibilities to account, and push them to take serious steps so that this never happens again”

- Şükrü Oktay Kılıç


One of the fastest-growing independent media in Turkey, Fayn focuses on in-depth coverage and on constructive journalism, suggesting solutions to collective problems.

Şükrü Oktay Kılıç, Managing Director and founder of Fayn, was one of the many reporters who travelled through strenuous conditions to report on the earthquake, arriving near the epicentre only three days after the disaster.

"The main challenge as a journalist is to protect yourself from being traumatised by what you see, and to not let emotions get ahead of professionalism,” he says.

After the earthquake, an important part of Fayn’s work was to counter disinformation and hate speech that was spreading on Turkish media, most of it directed at Syrian refugees.

Botan International: helping journalists affected by the earthquake in Diyarbakır


Headquartered in Diyarbakır, Botan International is the only organisation that provides media training in the Kurdish language in Turkey. is the most widely read Kurdish language website in Turkey.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the Botan team worked on providing coverage about the disaster as well as material support to the community. “We all donated 20 percent of our salaries to the humanitarian relief efforts and when it was difficult to find food in Diyarbakır, we cooked and served meals for journalists,” says founder and CEO Murat Bayram.

Focus Aleppo: covering the earthquake in northern Syria


When the earthquake hit Syria in February, Focus Aleppo’s journalists were personally affected. Some lost family members. Others lost their homes,and equipment including cameras and laptops. The journalists kept on reporting through the chaos—this is a media with extensive experience of working in areas of conflict.

“A sentence that was constantly repeated in our newsroom was ‘I have to work, write, photograph […] otherwise I will die too.’ Continuing our work was crucial for our psychological safety, ” says Ali Akhabour, Focus Aleppo founder.

An EED emergency grant helped Focus Aleppo continue operating and the team quickly adapted their way of working to respond to the crisis. A team of photographers toured the affected areas to document the impact of the disaster on residents.

As a local independent media, able to reach areas where major international media were absent, the outlet became a reliable source of information about the aftermath of the earthquake both locally and internationally. Its journalists also provided vital information to the affected people, informing them on access to material help and psychological support.

SyriaUntold: underreported stories about the earthquake


The earthquake affected many of SyriaUntold’s journalists both personally and professionally, with some losing their houses in the disaster, yet they all kept on working. “They were already working in crisis conditions before the earthquake—and they had to keep working in a ‘crisis within a crisis’, but they were crucial in bringing out local voices from Syria,” says Enrico De Angelis, co-founder of SyriaUntold.

While many regional and international media focused on the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, within a brief period international media attention moved on from the fate of Syrian victims. “Most media outlets did not take the time to investigate the relationship between the disaster and political responsibility: many deaths could have been avoided with different government policies, but most media overlooked this,” says Enrico.