A week after a catastrophic earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, the number of people currently confirmed to have died has risen to more than 40,000. We mourn the people who passed away and stand in solidarity with the Turkish and Syrian people who desperately need our help in these tragic times. 

With hope for more survivors sadly fading away, the international community must step up its efforts in caring for survivors.

The area affected by the earthquake, in southern Turkey and northern Syria, is inhabited by more than 13 million people. While in Turkey, the media reports on international action visible on the ground, in Syria, just across the hill, a war-torn country, the silence is overwhelming. Here, the level of international aid was next to nothing. Just over a week after the earthquake, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has agreed to open two more border crossings to allow aid to be delivered to the affected region. In both countries, people who lost their loved ones are now homeless during a harsh winter. They feel abandoned and are angry with the Turkish government, who didn’t enforce construction standards, angry that help was not fast enough or did not come at all, as in Syria’s case. 

It’s high time for the EU and the entire international community to put real solidarity into action. All international organisations must ensure that people come first and their needs are not sacrificed over political calculations. In both countries, the recovery process will be lengthy. We will use all our means to make sure that, when the spotlight goes away from the region, people on the ground will not be forgotten and the EU will deliver for as long as they need us. 

MEP Özlem Demirel (Die Linke, Germany) declared:

“Any government would be overwhelmed in the face of such a major catastrophe. But what people are outraged about is that the regime doesn’t realise that its own structures are far from sufficient and that it is still sticking to its bureaucratic hurdles out of political calculation. We need to mobilise all kinds of aid. The EU must ensure that the aid in Syria and Turkey reaches those affected quickly and effectively.