Major Updates: Blinken to pledge earthquake support on first Turkey visit
Last updated on February 17th, 2023 at 11:48 am
Nine days after powerful earthquakes, the official combined death toll from the disaster has crossed 41,000. Nevertheless, emergency crews are still continuing to find survivors, even 220 hours after the first quake.
The World Health Organisation has raised serious concerns over the repercussions of the tremors in rebel-held areas in northwest Syria. The UN is appealing for nearly $400 million in aid to help five million survivors in the war-torn nation with food, shelter, sanitation, and healthcare.
1) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to travel to Turkey on Sunday to discuss support in relation to the powerful tremors, his first trip to the country which has had tumultuous relations with Washington.
2) The US has dispatched some 200 rescue personnel and contributed an initial $85 million in urgent relief aid to NATO ally Turkey.
3) Even as hopes to find survivors in the rubble dwindled and the attention switched to relief works, two women in Turkey’s southern city of Kahramanmaras were pulled alive from the debris on Wednesday.
4) 76 countries sent Turkey search and rescue teams to help comb for survivors through collapsed buildings, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, adding twelve of the foreign teams have returned home after completing their missions.
5) Turkey shifted its focus to post-quake reconstruction on Wednesday, asking those in disaster zones whose buildings have been deemed safe to return home.
6) A caravan of 11 UN trucks entered war-ravaged Syria through the reopened Bab al-Salam border point, after Damascus agreed to open a couple more border crossings to facilitate foreign aid delivery.
7) Britain on Wednesday pledged an extra $30 million for tents, blankets, and medical supplies for affected survivors amid freezing conditions, bringing the total UK financial support for the earthquake zone to $51.58 million.
8) NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is expected to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Cavusoglu – and see affected areas – during his Thursday trip to the quake-hit nation.
9) Stoltenberg’s Turkey trip comes as he urges the NATO member to ratify Sweden and Finland’s applications to join the military alliance.
10) The UAE has played a major role in a significant international response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Turkey and neighbouring Syria, delivering 1,881 tonnes of aid.