In an update last week, Better Cotton said the regions that were hit by the earthquakes in both Türkiye and Syria are regions where many Better Cotton Farmers and supply chain members are located.

“We are continuing to communicate with members and stakeholders on the ground about the impacts of the disaster and the progress of relief efforts. Together with our Strategic Partner in Turkey, IPUD (İyi Pamuk Uygulamaları Derneği – the Good Cotton Practices Association), we are committed to continuing efforts to support sustainability in the cotton sector while communities recover and rebuild,” Better Cotton said.

The earthquake of 6 February hit Turkey, Syria and surrounding regions at a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale. The Turkish province of Hatay was struck with an additional magnitude 6.4 earthquake on 20 February, causing further devastation across the region.

The death toll in Turkey and Syria now stands at over 50,000, with 14 million people impacted in Turkey and estimates suggesting that up to 5 million people in Syria may have been made homeless.

Alan McClay, CEO of Better Cotton, commented: “The large scale of destruction and devastation has become apparent since the first earthquake on 6 February. Many of our partners and stakeholders are directly affected, as are our own colleagues in the region. We are helping to channel our support through disaster relief organisations for the immediate, most pressing needs.”

Better Cotton said it will provide relief from contractual obligations to partners and members in the longer term as reconstruction gets underway. It is also supporting those organisations working hard to keep the supply flows running by ensuring access to the Better Cotton platform.

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“As our members and non-member BCP suppliers focus on business continuity, we hope that these actions are helpful and allow them the flexibility to continue working if they are able to do so,” the organisation said. “Better Cotton has issued a derogation for organisations in Turkey in relation to the Better Cotton Chain of Custody Guidelines version 1.4, which is available on the Better Cotton platform.

Better Cotton members across the world have rallied to support the victims of the earthquakes, providing both financial and physical aid to those affected by the disaster.

Mavi, which is headquartered in Istanbul, has converted its Vancouver warehouse into a donation point, collecting aid for delivery to victims in the disaster areas. So far, more than 500 aid parcels containing clothing, tents and food, have been dispatched. In addition, the company has made monetary donations to AFAD and AHBAP and delivered winter clothing to the affected region through the Red Crescent.

The IKEA Foundation has committed EUR10m (US$10.7m) to emergency relief efforts. The grant funds 5,000 Relief Housing Units to support the most vulnerable people left without a home in freezing temperatures.

Inditex, the parent company of Zara, has donated EUR3m to the Red Crescent to support humanitarian relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Its donation will be used to cover the basic needs of the victims.

Decathlon has set up a EUR1m solidarity fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation. This fund will provide financial aid to NGOs that are actively involved in helping and supporting affected populations.

H&M Group has donated US$100,000 to the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) in response to the humanitarian needs in the impacted area, as well as providing winter garments to victims of the earthquakes. Additionally, the H&M Foundation has donated US$250,000 to the Red Cross/Red Crescent and US$250,000 to Save the Children.

Fast Retailing has donated EUR1m to provide emergency humanitarian aid, whilst supplying 40,000 items of winter clothing to the UNHCR refugee relief agency.

In February, Better Cotton hosted ‘Innovations Marketplace’ – a three-day event which showcased the latest global farmers tools and sustainable practices.