Countries Worldwide Mobilize Aid Following Earthquake in Turkey, Syria

Countries around the world are rushing to send rescue workers, equipment and aid after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Turkey and Syria early Monday. 

U.S. President Joe Biden said in statement that U.S. “teams are deploying quickly to begin to support Turkish search and rescue efforts and address the needs of those injured and displaced by the earthquake.” 

Biden spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to offer condolences and said the United States will send “any and all” aid needed to help recovery, the White House said in a statement. 

John Kirby, the U.S. National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said the United States is deploying two 79-person urban search and rescue teams and that the Pentagon and the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, are coordinating with their Turkish counterparts on additional assistance. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, to “pick up the phone and let us know” what the United States can do to help, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price. 

The European Union said it mobilized rescue teams with crews from countries including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania dispatched to the region. At least 13 member countries have offered assistance. 

“Our thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones and the brave first responders working to save lives,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said in a joint statement. 

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said their governments were ready to help those affected by the earthquake. 

Britain said it was sending a team of 76 search-and-rescue specialists, equipment and rescue dogs. 

“Greece is mobilizing its resources and will assist immediately,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said search and rescue teams, as well as medical aid, would be going to Turkey in response to a request from the Turkish government. 

Israel also said it had received a request for humanitarian aid for Syria through a diplomatic official and would send assistance. The two historical adversaries have no diplomatic relations. 

Russia also said it had rescue teams preparing to go to Turkey and Syria to help earthquake victims. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad and Turkey’s Erdogan to express his condolences over the death and destruction caused by the earthquake. 

The United Arab Emirates said it would set up a field hospital in Turkey and send search-and-rescue teams to Turkey and Syria. 

Iraq said it would send civil defense teams to Turkey and Syria with relief supplies, including food and fuel. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered his government’s support as well. 

“I am shocked to learn of deaths and injuries of hundreds of people as a result of the earthquake in Turkey,” Zelenskyy tweeted. “We send our condolences to the families of the victims and wish the injured a speedy recovery. At this time, we stand by the friendly Turkish people and are ready to provide the necessary assistance.” 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “anguished” by the deaths in Turkey and Syria and said two teams comprising 100 personnel with specially trained dogs were ready to be flown to the affected areas. 

China’s president, Xi Jinping, sent his condolences to the leaders of Turkey and Syria while China’s foreign aid agency said it was in communication with both countries and “willing to provide emergency humanitarian aid in accordance with the needs of the affected population.” 

Japan, another country often plagued by earthquakes, said it is sending a group of about 75 rescue workers to Turkey. 

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg expressed “full solidarity” with alliance member Turkey and said, “NATO allies are mobilizing support now.” 

At the United Nations, the General Assembly observed a minute of silence in tribute to the victims. 

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his “deepest condolences” and said the United Nations “is fully committed to supporting the response,” according to U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. 

“Our teams are on the ground assessing the needs and providing assistance.  We count on the international community to help the thousands of families hit by this disaster, many of whom were already in dire need of humanitarian aid in areas where access is a challenge,” Dujarric said. 

Some material for this article came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. 

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