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Türkiye earthquake and international aid

Türkiye earthquake and international aid

Türkiye’s rebuilding process, which may take at least a few years, will also be critical for the internal solidarity of the Western alliance.

Unfortunately, Türkiye faced a great disaster. The fact that such a severe earthquake swept the country in winter conditions and at a time when everyone was sleeping in the morning caused images that shook us all deeply. In the face of such a disaster and tragedy, there isn't much to say other than expressing good wishes for recovery to the whole country. My condolences to those who lost their loved ones and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

Experts in Türkiye will discuss these issues in depth in the coming period, such as earthquake preparedness, measures related to unplanned construction, scientific analysis of fault lines, search and rescue strategy, humanitarian aid efforts and many more. When we looked at the international dimension of the issue and how it resonated in the U.S., we saw that there was extremely broad support. Apart from institutions such as NATO, the EU, and the UN, the fact that around 45 different countries contacted Türkiye for assistance and that many aid teams have already been dispatched to the earthquake-affected regions stands out as an important gain for the country.

Türkiye has become one of the most active countries in sending humanitarian and emergency aid in international crises such as national disasters and pandemics in other countries. We see that Türkiye's position as a global leader in the field of international humanitarian aid in recent years has been appreciated by other countries. In addition to institutions such as the Red Crescent and AFAD, non-governmental organizations also ran to help disasters in different parts of the world, which both increased Türkiye's experience and knowledge on this issue and helped build its capacity. We are living in a process where Türkiye's well-intentioned efforts in humanitarian aid and emergency response have paid off.

After the Gölcük earthquake, Türkiye sought to increase its capacity in disaster and emergency management across the country. It has made it a habit to send aid not only to the countries in its region but also to the disaster areas all over the world with the teams that reach the earliest. With the onset of the Syrian crisis, hundreds of thousands of refugees flocked to Türkiye, increasing the coordination capacity of AFAD, making the institution a world leader under the leadership of Fuat Oktay. Türkiye's humanitarian aid experience, which has occasionally reached a level that exceeds international standards, has not escaped the attention of international institutions.

The soft power effect of Türkiye's humanitarian aid efforts in many countries has even been the subject of accusations. However, it was clear that such crises could not be sacrificed to politics and that every country might need foreign aid in natural disasters. The earthquakes in Adıyaman and Kahramanmaraş and the magnitude of the earthquake that affected at least 10 provinces, as well as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Cyprus, made it necessary for Türkiye to declare a level 4 disaster and triggered the call for international assistance. The swift and strong response to this call also showed how high the level of goodwill towards Türkiye is.

Along with the Biden administration officials' statements that they are open to all kinds of help and support, President Biden's call to President Erdogan to express his condolences and give instructions to send aid was also important for Turkish-American relations, which are constantly struggling with problems. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Türkiye had partially overcome the problems experienced in the supply chain by sending medical supplies to many countries, including the U.S.

The fact that many of our American friends and colleagues reached us directly and offered their condolences and offered help, showed how high their sympathy was towards Türkiye and was one of the results of the earthquake's wide coverage in the American press. On the one hand, although it is doubtful whether Elon Musk's proposal to send Starlink will meet the current needs of Türkiye, on the other hand, the support messages of famous American names were an indication of how politics can be put aside when it comes to natural disasters.

Türkiye has become known for its emphasis on the fact that regional and global crises cannot be resolved without international solidarity and for its humanitarian aid policy that tries to implement it. Acting as the pioneer of international solidarity in many disasters such as earthquakes, fires, migration, and pandemics, the support from so many different institutions and countries these days when Türkiye needs help shows the value of international humanitarian aid policy. It is clear that the performance shown in line with this policy has left its mark on the international community.

From now on, Türkiye has to create a much more comprehensive earthquake policy that includes preparation for complex, shocking, and wide-ranging scenarios as it is today while healing the wounds of its people. While doing this, it is best for the country to progress by creating a common ground with its experts, scientists, institutions, and citizens and to deepen its engagement with international knowledge and experience.

[Yeni Şafak, February 8 2023]