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The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck portions of Turkey and Syria in February 2023 left a wake of destruction in its path that demanded a massive, coordinated humanitarian response.

However, the spread of misinformation in the aftermath of this disaster made it a challenge to coordinate relief efforts. Distributing food, shelter, and medicine became a difficult enterprise. 

Meedan supported the efforts of local journalists as they countered misinformation, verified the distribution of humanitarian aid, and addressed harmful content circulating in communities that had been impacted by the disaster. 

Meedan collaborated with the fact-checking group Fatabyyano to assist in the creation Kinan, the first Check tipline made for an Arabic-speaking audience. 

Using Check, Fatabyyano was able to automate aspects of its fact-checking processes with the support of natural language processing and machine learning techniques. 

Check tiplines and chatbots such as Kinan are frequently used to facilitate communication between fact-checkers and large audiences, especially during elections and moments of crisis.

To assist other local agencies in their life-saving work, Meedan provided technical assistance to organizations responsible for distributing critical information. We also facilitated networking opportunities and offered emergency financial support to partners in Turkey, such as Teyit, as well as to groups working with Syrian refugee communities.

Applying what we’ve learned to our future efforts

During crises, we found that it was important to quickly identify underserved groups and communities to ensure they receive the support they need. Our team conducted a gap analysis in the region to better understand which information needs were already being met by global guidance and local fact-checking efforts and to identify which areas still required further support. Following this review, and after consultation with partners in the region, we learned that Arabic-speaking communities in Turkey were in need of credible information, but the majority of crisis-response materials were being created in Turkish. In response, we facilitated connections between partner organizations working in both languages to ensure vital information was reaching a diverse range of communities.

When media and fact-checking organizations collaborate across borders and languages, more people can get the help they need. These efforts can also reduce redundancy and increase efficiency in times when resources are low. Communities affected by crises must be able to access vital information in their own languages.

For 2024, our preparedness and crisis-response efforts prioritize cross-language and cross-border collaboration.

“This project enabled us to extend our reach to unconnected communities, particularly Arabic speakers in Turkey who were significantly impacted by a recent crisis. Teyit's invaluable assistance, as they helped us share our awareness campaign on their social media accounts, amplified its impact within the Arabic-speaking community in Turkey, and inspired us to further expand our coverage.”
Dr. Moath Althaher
Dr. Moath Althaher
CEO of Fatabyyano
at Meedan

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