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Turkey earthquake: UN launches $1 billion aid appeal

February 17, 2023

The UN is seeking to help provide food, water and shelter for millions of people affected by earthquakes. The death toll in Turkey and Syria continues to rise.

A woman sits amidst rubble and damages following an earthquake in Gaziantep, Turkey.
A woman sits amidst rubble and damages following an earthquake in Gaziantep, TurkeyImage: SUHAIB SALEM/REUTERS

The United Nations on Thursday launched an appeal for $1 billion (€0.94 billion) from member states to help relief efforts in Turkey following  devastating earthquakes.

Rescue efforts are still ongoing as the death toll in Turkey and Syria exceeded 41,000 on Friday.

What did the UN say?

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the funds would provide humanitarian aid 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, Guterres said.

"The needs are enormous, people are suffering and there's no time to lose," he added.

"I urge the international community to step up and fully fund this critical effort in response to one of the biggest natural disasters of our times."

Earlier this week, the UN appealed for $400 million to help Syrian survivors across the border.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric was asked why the appeal for Turkey is 2.5 times more than the one for Syria to assist the same number of people.

Part of the reason, Dujarric said, is that "there is already a well-established humanitarian community which has been working in Syria,'' and before the quake there was a $4.8-billion humanitarian appeal for Syria for 2023.

"So there's already a humanitarian pot of money that exists for Syria, which did not exist for Turkey,'' he said.

Syria: More earthquake aid after UN deal

Guterres said in his statement that Turkey is home to the largest number of refugees in the world, and the country has shown "enormous generosity to its Syrian neighbors for years."

"Now is the time for the world to support the people of Turkey — just as they have stood in solidarity with others seeking assistance," he said.

WHO appeals for $84.5 million

Later on Friday, the World Health Organization appealed for $84.5 million (€77.5 million) to respond to health needs after the earthquakes in both Turkey and Syria.

"The flash appeal outlines the health situation in the two countries following this humanitarian disaster, the main threats to health, the WHO response since the earthquakes hit and priorities for addressing the health impacts in both countries,"
the WHO said in a statement.

Toll rises as hope for more survivors fades

Meanwhile on Friday, officials and medics reported that 38,044 people had died in Turkey and 3,688 in Syria from the February 6 quake, bringing the total death toll to 41,732.

On Thursday, a 17-year-old girl and a woman in her 20s were pulled from under the rubble by rescuers in Turkey, almost 11 days after the 7.8 magnitude quake.

But hopes of finding more survivors have been fading.

Turkey has suspended rescue operations in some areas, and the Syrian government has done the same in regions under its control.

Turkey, Syria: focus of aid shifts to survivors

dvv/rt,fb (AFP, AP, dpa)