Once again, the crypto community is engaging in humanitarian efforts and lessening the pain in global affairs. For example, at the start of last year, the decentralized finance community showed support to Ukrainians amid the ongoing geopolitical war with Russia. Likewise, following a devastating earthquake that razed parts of Turkey and Syria to the ground, support from the cryptocurrency sector is pouring in.
Turkey and Syria earthquake ravages lives and properties
A massive earthquake slammed south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, in the early hours of Monday morning, killing over 5,000 people and injuring thousands more.
The earthquake, which occurred near the town of Gaziantep, was quickly followed by multiple aftershocks, one of which was nearly as large as the first.
It was a large earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale and rated as “major” on the official scale. It ruptured along a 100km (62 miles) fault line, inflicting significant damage to buildings along the fault.
This was a place where there had been no large earthquakes or warning signs in more than 200 years, so the level of readiness would be lower than in a region more accustomed to coping with tremors. However, humanitarian relief organizations have stepped in to fill the void.
Turkey has sent over 24,400 search and rescue troops to the earthquake zone and reported that 5,775 buildings had collapsed. On Monday, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake sent shockwaves over Turkey and Syria. The tragedy has been termed the ‘deadliest in a decade.’
Crypto entities step up once more
Local and international crypto exchanges have donated aid to Turkey in the aftermath of two major earthquakes and countless aftershocks that continue to claim lives. Meanwhile, Twitter has come together in support of the disaster. And cryptocurrency Twitter is no exception, with influencers rushing to offer their support and prayers.
One Turkish cryptocurrency dealer has even started seeking cryptocurrency donations. They claim they will be delivered directly to local NGOs’ friends.
Crypto exchanges such as Binance, Gate.io, and Bitfinex have stated that they are looking for ways to provide assistance or have begun preparing help packages. BitGet, a crypto exchange, has already contributed 1 million Turkish Lira (about $53,000) to humanitarian help, while Huobi Global has pledged 2 million lira.
Millions of money were donated to Ukraine during the Russian invasion last year, while COVID-19 help was sent to India as it battled a severe outbreak in 2021.
Further, CZ, the King of Crypto, made an unexpected announcement that he was working on solutions. CZ also stated that he had four meetings to move things ahead quickly and receive help where it was needed.
But crypto donations can be more difficult than traditional payments or bank transfers when local authorities are less receptive to digital assets that exist in a legislative gray area in jurisdictions throughout the globe. As a result, Turkey’s blockchain industry and research organizations have drafted a petition requesting that crypto-based donations be permitted in Turkey.
At the time of publication, more than 40 entities had signed the petition requesting that Turkish authorities create “official crypto asset wallets and share them through official channels” – similar to what Ukraine did shortly after the outbreak of war in February 2022 – to prevent “malicious aid schemes.”
It is unclear whether the humanitarian operations extend to Syria, a war-torn country subject to severe economic sanctions from the United States and the European Union.
CZ and Binance top in crypto-humanitarian aid
This is not the first time Binance has intervened in foreign conflicts. Through its humanitarian arm, Binance Charity, the top cryptocurrency exchange, has entered a multitude of theaters. Especially in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Specifically in reaction to 12 million displaced individuals or refugees.
Binance initially pledged $10 million to support worldwide humanitarian assistance operations. This allowed the exchange to serve as a financing partner for a small number of local NGOs in the crisis zone.
A significantly more creative “solution followed this.” This may shed light on what CZ could do in reaction to the Turkish earthquake. In April 2022, “Binance Refugee Cards” were introduced. The card functions as a pass allowing vulnerable individuals access to the exchange and corporate philanthropic initiatives.
This allows for the provision of cash-based interventions (CBIs). These are designed to provide temporary financial relief. This is in order to “buy time” for individuals to begin reconstructing their lives.
Over 15,000 individuals were issued Binance Refugee Cards. And allowed access to the “Crypto-to-Cash” scheme on Binance. This effectively equated to 75 BUSD per month for three months.
This might form the foundation of Binance’s disaster relief assistance to Turkey. Since 2018, Binance has focused significantly on “blockchain for good.” This has included working with CARE to aid refugees from Sudan. And it was working in Afghanistan to assist Afghan women in retraining for access to tech jobs.