After Turkey, Syria quakes, international aid complicated by geopolitics

Faced with the urgency of the situation on Monday, February 6, Turkey and Syria each swiftly appealed for international assistance to deal with the aftermath of a deadly earthquake not far from their shared border. The quake’s epicenter was near the town of Gaziantep, 60 kilometers north of Syria, and the provisional death toll on Tuesday morning exceeded 4,300, including nearly 3,000 in Turkey.

Also read: Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: More than 4,300 dead as cold slows search for survivors

Given the magnitude of the losses, the appeal of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had an immediate effect: many countries, led by European countries, with which he has often been at odds, immediately announced the dispatch of rescuers in an attempt to rescue the Survivors ASAP. “We have activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The European Emergency Response Coordination Center coordinates the deployment of the European rescue team,” EU Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic tweeted. In this context, France has decided to send 139 rescuers, firefighters and civil security personnel from Monday evening. Thirty volunteers from Pompeii Society Without Borders will follow on Tuesday.

Greece has also shown solidarity despite numerous disputes that have marred relations between the two neighbours.Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called Recep Tayyip Erdogan and offered him a “Instant Help”. The United States, India, China and Russia have also provided aid, as have Ankara’s allies in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan or Gulf, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, with which Turkey has close ties.

Ukraine ready to help Ankara

Even war-torn Ukraine, nearly a year after the Russian invasion, has offered to mobilize aid workers to send them to affected Turkish regions.President Vladimir Zelensky himself said his country was “Ready to provide necessary assistance”. Kyiv is seeking to mend relations with Ankara, which has provided it with drones and has been able to mediate with Moscow. But the Ukrainian leader didn’t bother to mention Syria, one of the few countries that has so far backed Russia’s invasion and the Kremlin leader is also the main protector of Damascus dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Kyiv’s response bears that out: The situation is more complicated in Syria, a country torn apart by a 12-year civil war whose leaders have been under international sanctions since the conflict erupted in 2011. “Earthquake-affected areas in northwest Syria have been devastated by civil war,” A humanitarian from Handicap International who was present said.

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