EU official due in Ankara for donors’ quake-relief conference

EU official due in Ankara for donors’ quake-relief conference

EU official due in Ankara for donors’ quake-relief conference

A senior European Union official will be in Ankara on Feb. 22 for the preparations of an international donors’ conference as part of the EU’s assistance to the disaster-hit people in Türkiye and Syria.

Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi will hold talks with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and other Turkish officials in the Turkish capital.

“Ahead of my visit to prepare the International Donors’ Conference, another devastating earthquake hit Türkiye. Our condolences to the victims and their families. The EU stands firmly with Türkiye. Our solidarity and support remains unwavering in these difficult times,” he tweeted.

Türkiye and Syria were hit by devastating earthquakes on Feb. 6 that claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people. An additional six people were killed due to a powerful aftershock tremor in Hatay late on Feb. 20.

Varhelyi and Çavuşoğlu will hold talks about the modalities of the donors’ conference to be jointly organized by the EU Commission and EU’s term president, Sweden, on March 16 in Brussels. It will be open to EU Members, neighbors, U.N. members, international financial institutions and relevant stakeholders and will aim to raise resources and coordinate a response to support Türkiye and Syria.

The conference will be chaired jointly by Commissioner in charge of Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Oliver Varhelyi, and the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Johan Forssell.

Following the earthquakes, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated immediately. Some 20 EU Member States and Albania, Montenegro and Serbia have already offered 31 search and rescue teams and five medical teams via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which Türkiye is a part of it since 2016. An EU Civil Protection Team is currently in Türkiye to coordinate the international response.

In the meantime, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said “Following closely the situation on Hatay, Türkiye, where the earthquake struck again, adding to the suffering and destruction of the families affected. We stand with Türkiye in these difficult times.”

UN ready to provide more support: Guterres

With another 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocking the southern province of Hatay, just two weeks after the deadly tremors that claimed thousands of lives, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said they are ready to provide additional support to the country if needed.

“My thoughts continue to be with the people of Türkiye and Syria,” Guterres said in a social media post following the latest earthquake that struck on Feb. 20’s evening.

He added that U.N. teams on the ground are assessing the situation, and if necessary, they are prepared to offer more aid to the quake zone.

On Feb. 16, the U.N. launched an appeal for $1 billion to help survivors of the deadly earthquakes. Guterres said in a statement that the funds would provide humanitarian relief for three months to 5.2 million people.

The money would “allow aid organizations to rapidly scale up vital support,” including in the areas of food security, protection, education, water and shelter, he added.

“The needs are enormous, people are suffering, and there’s no time to lose,” Guterres said.