At an international donors’ conference in Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed that “the needs of survivors are enormous and must be met urgently”, AFP reported. For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan estimated the damage caused to his country at around 104 billion dollars (97 billion euros). “Regardless of its economic situation, a country cannot fight a disaster of this magnitude alone,” said the Turkish leader, speaking via videoconference.
Millions of people have been affected by the destruction of their homes in the disaster area of southeastern Turkey and northern Syria, which is home to large numbers of refugees or displaced by the Syrian conflict. In Syria, the damage is estimated by the UN at 8.3 billion euros, and the cost of construction work for reconstruction at 13.8 billion euros. Germany announced that it would double its aid for earthquake victims, bringing it to 240 million euros, while France added 12 million to the 30 million already announced for Turkey and Syria.
Two weeks ago, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) deplored the weak response to an emergency appeal launched in mid-February by the UN to raise more than a billion dollars for Turkey and nearly $400 million for Syria. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has urged donors to ensure that these appeals are fully met and that funds can be channeled “without delay” to aid organizations on the ground. Meanwhile, Turkey is a key partner of the European Union, which has given the country more than five billion euros to help it deal with the admission of Syrian refugees. “We accept four million refugees, including 3.5 million Syrians. Dressing our wounds, we stand in solidarity with the Syrian people, who also suffered from the earthquake,” Erdogan said.
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by another nine hours later, claimed 50,096 lives in Turkey, according to the latest official report. In addition, 5,954 people also died in Syria, according to a compilation based on official figures carried out by AFP. In Turkey, floods hit two provinces affected by the earthquake on Wednesday, leaving around 20 dead or missing, worsening the plight of survivors. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, presidential candidate on May 14, asked “forgiveness” to the population affected by the earthquake for having delayed the delivery of aid and promised the free reconstruction of houses and buildings “of a year here”.
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