Global community sure to repay Türkiye’s kindness in quake aid

Türkiye Materials 28 February 2023 22:48 (UTC +04:00)

The international community recognizes the role Türkiye has played in global crises so far and will provide the help the country needs in the wake of the Feb. 6 earthquakes that left more than 44,300 people dead, according to the U.N. resident coordinator Alvaro Rodriguez, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.

“We’re living in a world that is becoming much more unstable and despite the ongoing conflicts, like the war in Ukraine, that make it difficult for the global humanitarian community to raise resources, I think we must still try,” Rodriguez told private Turkish broadcaster Haberturk on Monday.

“I think Türkiye has many friends in the international community that knows how much Türkiye has done so far, hosting close to 4 million refugees and helping resume cereal shipments from Ukraine with the Black Sea grain deal,” the U.N. coordinator explained.

“There is a recognition of Türkiye’s efforts and it is precisely owing to that we hope the international community will provide that help,” he said.

Türkiye has been devastated by the biggest disaster in its modern history on Feb. 6 with magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 tremors that leveled thousands of buildings and killed tens of thousands across 11 of its provinces. The tremors also rocked several neighboring countries in the region, with Syria taking the most extensive damage after Türkiye and reporting at least 5,800 deaths in its northwest.

“You can see the scale of the disaster and the desperation there,” Rodriguez said as he recalled his first visit to the region. “I saw the way people tried to find their loved ones. There was a great concern there.”

Since Feb. 6, condolences, donations, rescuers, and humanitarian relief poured into the region from around the world. More than 100 countries dispatched search and rescue teams, equipment and sniffer dogs to save as many survivors as possible.

Stressing that the scale of the devastation was “beyond imagination,” Rodriguez said, “but so was the response.”

He hailed the “sheer scope” of international aid and the efforts, and contributions of the Turkish government and citizens, saying, “Never have I seen such a wide-scale support operation.”

The European Union has also launched a donation drive, unveiling a donor conference scheduled on March 16 and calling on the international community to raise funds and coordinate aid for the displaced and reconstruction of the disaster zone while the United Nations made an appeal for $1 billion to cover a three-month period following the earthquake.

As Rodriguez put it, the appeal is aimed at addressing immediate needs in the disaster zone, which primarily includes shelter and food.

“Children, especially, need at least two hot meals every day,” Rodriguez underlined.

“Sanitation too is very important, a hygienic kitchen is required and the region also needs communicational infrastructure,” he listed.

The current status of operations in the area is stalled between search and rescue operations and the reconstruction period, according to Rodriguez.

In addition to the aid sent to the Turkish government, the money sent to the United Nations goes to various organizations, with up to 40% of it spared for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), he explained. “What we call localization emerges here, which is a priority for us.”

“Those on the ground right now are the ones who know the needs of the people the best and our priority is to deliver aid to them,” Rodriguez said.

As the humanitarian phase in the first two weeks comes to a close, the EU, working very closely with the Turkish government, should be ready to prepare for the full recovery and reconstruction period, according to Rodriguez, which requires prioritization to establish a comprehensive framework.

“And when support comes, which we hope will be significant, including from Türkiye’s private sector and the government budget itself, the outcome will be to consolidate a set of priorities that would likely last for one or two years to focus the attention on reconstruction of the 11 provinces,” he said.

“We know Türkiye will get back on its feet in the reasonable near term because it is a solid economy,” Rodriguez also noted. “There have been challenges of late but Türkiye has a well-trained labor force and is active in the international market, so money spent on Türkiye is money well spent.”

The U.N. official further remarked on criticism hurled against the Turkish government over its response to the disaster.

“Natural disasters like this happen and criticism is unavoidable,” he argued. “Some factors are of course avoidable; builders must be careful and potential buyers must be careful when inspecting their buildings. If such measures had been taken, we would have considerably fewer losses,” he concluded.