Turkey earthquake: donations, holidays and flights rights explained

More than 21,000 people are known to have died in this week’s devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria. If you want to help by donating money or are worried about travelling to Turkey - we explain what you need to know

Woman packing food into a box labelled 'donation'
(Image credit: Getty images)

On Monday 6 February an earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude hit the Gaziantep region of Turkey  Since then the daily death toll has been rising, according to the BBC 17,000 people are now known to have died.

Here we explain how you can best donate to support the relief effort and what it means for anyone with travel and holiday plans in the region.

Donations and support

The charity commission is warning people to be careful about the how they donate money to ensure every penny goes to genuine charities.  

If you want to donate money to help the international aid effort, launched in response to the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the charity commission suggests doing it safely. 

Both the Charity Commission and Fundraising Regulator are warning that fraudsters and criminals can take advantage of public generosity with fake appeals.

If you want to donate – you can do it through the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) which has launched a Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal.    

When a crisis like the disastrous earthquakes which occurred earlier this week happens overseas – the DEC steps in to unite 15 UK aid charities so that funds can be raised as quickly and efficiently as possible.

You can make a donation by clicking the link on the Disasters Emergency Committee website.

The government has announced it will match the first £5 million of donations given by the British public.

Is it safe to go on holiday to Turkey?

Some people who have holidays booked to Turkey may be wondering if it’s still safe to go.

The Foreign Office has only advised against all but essential travel to Sirnak and the province of Hakkari in southern Turkey. 

Turkey is a big country and the popular tourist resorts of Bodrum and Fethiye are hundreds of kilometres away from the areas affected by the earthquake.

What do the tour operators say?

We contacted both TUI  and Jet2 who offer holidays to Turkey and both say holidays are still going ahead.

A spokesperson for TUI UK said: “Our thoughts are with those affected by the tragic events following the earthquakes that have hit southeast Turkey”.

TUI said the earthquakes were approximately 800km away from the resort of Antalya. Its resort team reports they are unaffected and it says: “our flight programme will not be disrupted as a result”.

It says it is monitoring the situation, along with guidance from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and say it will update customers if anything changes.

Jet2 said, “we will not be cancelling flights or holidays to Turkey” and pointed customers in the direction of its website if they want to make any changes to existing bookings.

Can I change my holiday if I'm worried about going?

If your holiday is going ahead, and you want to postpone it, you should speak to your tour operator to find out their policy on this.

While flight bookings are non-refundable and non-transferable with Jet2, its terms and conditions do allow you to change the date of travel. But you can only change the date, not the destination.

Any date changes can be made online, via its call centre or the airport sales desk.

This is subject to a £35 admin fee, plus any difference in the price of your trip, based on your original holiday price and the new trip.

Can I get a refund on my holiday to Turkey?

And if your trip is going ahead, but you decide you no longer want to go,  then you may be unlikely to get a refund of the full cost.

Each travel firm may have different rules on this – usually set out in its terms and conditions.  

With Jet2holidays, if you decide to cancel 70 days or more before your trip, you will only lose your deposit.  Beyond this, you may lose some, or the full cost of your trip. 

Should the reason for cancellation of any holiday be for medical reasons, then you should contact your travel insurer to recover costs on your travel policy, minus any excess.

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Sue Hayward

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!