We’re here to discuss the recent earthquakes that have hit Turkey and Syria, resulting in the deaths of over 29,000 people. The UN warns that the death toll could double, as rescuers in Turkey continue to search for any remaining survivors. However, there are reports of looting and civil unrest in some areas, which is hampering the efforts of emergency crews.
Moments of prayer have been offered for the lives that have been cut short, and as the hope of finding survivors fades, attention turns to burying the dead. In Hutaı Province, scores have been laid to rest in mass graves, as more bodies continue to arrive. On the streets of Antakya, there are concerns over security and civil unrest, with shops being looted and ATMs being ransacked. People are taking diapers, food, and drinks from supermarkets, which is understandable, as there has been no help for days. However, some people are taking cookers and coffee machines, which is strange.
“We watch our houses, our vehicles. Loot our houses? Unfortunately, there’s nothing to say. We’re devastated, upset. What we are experiencing is like a nightmare,” says one resident.
Dozens of people have been arrested, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned those who are looting and committing other crimes that they will feel the firm hand of the state on their backs. German rescue workers and Austrian soldiers were temporarily forced to halt operations due to growing security concerns.
The security situation is becoming more tense because food and water supplies are running out, and people are out searching for them. The hope that people had is now increasingly fading, and that hope can turn into anger.
Almost a week on from the earthquake, the importance of protecting the rescue operation is clear. A 12-year-old child has been pulled from the rubble, which was a rare moment of visible relief.
We’re now joined by Imad Bazi with the International Network for Aid Relief and Assistance in Nara, who is currently in Arena, Turkey. Imad, it’s been almost a week since the quakes hit. How would you describe the situation right now?
“Well, with all the aid arriving from all around the world, rescue workers’ organizations, everybody is coming together now. Now it’s time to put the right plans in place and start targeting people who are homeless on the streets and unable to provide their daily needs. So now, the organizations are working with them, and they are able to target more and more people as more people are pulled out of the rubble.”
There have been reports about looting and unrest in parts of Turkey. What have you seen?
“To be honest, I was in Gaziantep, and then I was evacuated, so I did not see looting myself. But we have heard reports that looting has been going on in areas like the government promised to tackle this issue. They have arrested some people, and the president, Erdogan, said he will make sure that this is not happening again, and the police are now patrolling the areas. Some people are looting because of their desperate need for food, water, and supplies. Others are looting just because it’s a chance for them to get whatever they can get from houses that have collapsed or have easy access to. We can’t say for sure, but that’s happening in areas where the earthquake hit the most.”
How does that social unrest impact the work you’re trying to do?
“Again, we can’t see much social unrest at the moment in all areas, but we are also concerned about the safety of our workers, the teams that are on the ground, and people that are trying to move and dig into the rubble.”
In conclusion, the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have claimed the lives of over 29,000 people and are expected to double. The rescue efforts are ongoing, but there have been reports of looting and civil unrest in some areas, which are hampering the emergency crews. The situation is dire, with people left homeless and unable to provide their daily needs. The international community has come together to provide aid and assistance, but the magnitude of this disaster is huge. It is important to protect the rescue operation, and the authorities are working to tackle the issue of looting and unrest. The safety of rescue workers and teams on the ground is a major concern, as they continue to search for survivors and work to provide assistance to those affected. Our thoughts are with those impacted by this tragedy, and we hope that the situation improves soon.