The European Commission has pledged €1 billion to Turkey to aid in the Turkey earthquake reconstruction efforts following the devastating earthquakes that claimed tens of thousands of lives in February. European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, made the announcement on Monday, ahead of a donors’ conference in Brussels. The aid package will also include €108 million for humanitarian assistance to Syria, according to von der Leyen.
The earthquakes hit south-eastern Turkey in February, resulting in the death of over 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria. Tens of thousands of buildings were destroyed, prompting questions over the construction standards in the region. The European Commission’s aid package aims to help rebuild homes, schools and hospitals with high standards of seismic safety.
The February 6 tremors resulted in the loss of more than 52,000 lives in southern Turkey and north-western Syria, many of whom were asleep and buried under debris. Last month Washington committed $85 million in immediate humanitarian aid for Turkey, along with continuing USAid help. The additional $100 million pledged by Blinken brings the total to $185 million in aid for Turkey and Syria. The United States remains committed to doing everything it can to support the rescue, relief, and Turkey earthquake reconstruction efforts in the wake of the earthquake.
The cost of the earthquake’s damages in Turkey
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, estimates the cost of the earthquake’s damages at $104 billion (around €97 billion). In addition to the aid package, the EU and Sweden are hosting a one-day meeting attended by NGOs, G-20 and UN members, as well as international financial institutions to raise money for both Turkey and Syria.
The amount needed for Turkey earthquake reconstruction
Last month’s devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have left behind damages exceeding $100bn, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) official. A donor conference was held on March 16 in Brussels to raise funds for survivors and reconstruction, with the provisional damage figure only covering Turkey. Recovery costs are expected to be much higher, including the construction of improved and more environmentally sustainable infrastructure.
The World Bank previously estimated direct damage in Turkey at $34.2bn, with losses to the country’s gross domestic product due to economic disruptions caused by the earthquakes adding to the cost. Hatay province in Turkey was particularly hard-hit, with hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed, and the needs of survivors are vast but resources scarce. Turkish government figures show that around two million survivors have been evacuated or housed in temporary accommodation in the aftermath of the quakes.
EU stance on sending earthquake relief funds to Syria
Survivors of the earthquake in rebel-held northwest Syria have received little assistance due to deep divisions exacerbated by the country’s 12-year war. The EU has been providing humanitarian aid to Syria since 2011 and has expressed interest in stepping up aid efforts. However, the EU does not intend to contribute to Syria’s reconstruction as EU sanctions against President Bashar Assad’s regime remain in place due to its continued crackdown against civilians.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has urged donors to ensure that the UN’s appeal for Turkey and Syria, calling for $1 billion and $397 million respectively, is fully funded. The IRC said that the people affected by the earthquake are relying on donors meeting in Brussels to ensure that funding is available for life-saving items including food, shelter, warm clothes and clean water.
Image Credit: AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel