Türkiye was struck by three earthquakes, one with 7.7 magnitude, an aftershock of 6.6 magnitude and another independent one of 7.6 magnitude on Feb. 6, 2023. While all the epicenters of the quakes were located in the Kahramanmaraş province in southeastern Türkiye, at least nine other neighboring provinces were massively shaken by the devastating quakes. The death toll is over 35,000 as of Feb. 14 but the number of people killed is expected to rise in the coming days. Moreover, economic loss is estimated at $84.1 billion.
The government called for international assistance right after the first earthquake. In response, 84 countries sent their rescue teams to pull people alive from the rubble. The efforts of international civil protection teams were amazing and were appreciated by the Turkish people. In addition, some foreign governments promised to help Türkiye financially while the media and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in various countries conducted relief campaigns for victims of the Kahramanmaraş earthquakes.
Qatar has promised to spend all the revenue it obtained from hosting the FIFA 2022 World Cup, which is equal to $1.6 billion, for Türkiye’s earthquake relief operations. Pakistan has promised to donate $117 million, Kuwait $85 million, Saudi Arabia $58 million, United Arab Emirates (UAE) $53 million and Libya $50 million, not to mention the construction of container houses, field hospitals, and so on. In addition, the entire European Union promised to donate $3.1 million. This number is quite low when compared to the regional countries but since aid is aid, it will be wrong to be critical of the amount.
On the other hand, without making any discrimination, the Muslim world’s financial aid is worth mentioning. Before that, we should note that countries not mentioned above might have already donated or will donate soon, but since the amount is yet to be ascertained, their aid was not considered received. For example, we know Palestinian people are carrying out a relief campaign for Türkiye. Azerbaijan also gave a helping hand but official details are awaited.
Solidarity and brotherhood
People all around the world provided great support. Considering the Muslim countries’ support, it seems that solidarity and brotherhood stemming from the religion of Islam prevailed after the earthquake. When a disaster occurs, people rush for help to rescue victims regardless of who they are, what faith they adhere to, or which nation they belong to. However, the Kahramanmaraş earthquake indicates that particularly Muslim people of the Middle East that have the same values, history, religion and perhaps ethnicity as Turks were a bit more generous to the Turkish nation. We can include Syrian migrants living in Türkiye who worked hard for victims though they were themselves heavily affected by the earthquake.
These donations are important because the utmost level of solidarity is evident when a country is tackling a catastrophe. The English proverb that reads “a friend in need is a friend indeed” best explains this situation. What last week’s earthquake reveals is the friendship of people with dark hair and eyes. This argument does not underestimate how Europeans rushed to help after the earthquake. What we are trying to explain is that religious solidarity was a bit more prevalent in terms of aid.
Moreover, the earthquake has shown that Türkiye has reaped what it had sown. Not many people know that Türkiye comes first or second in the list of countries distributing the most humanitarian aid. From Somalia to Pakistan, Turkish state institutions and NGOs delivered billions of dollars worth of relief and aid. Only in 2022, they sent $5.6 billion worth of humanitarian aid to tens of countries. If we multiply this amount by the last 10 years, it will almost equal the damage caused by earthquakes.
The government and people know they sent relief for the sake of virtue and did not expect any help from any country. However, if a country helps, it will not refuse and appreciate it much as these times unveil who your real friends are.
Source: Daily Sabah