Situated in the Middle East, the Republic of Turkey and the Syrian Arab Republic share a 900 kilometre border, the zone of various earthquakes which took place over the last month. Earthquakes are caused by sudden movements of tectonic plates. Such movements take the form of seismic waves which cause the shaking of the Earth’s surface. Following the multiple earthquakes which took place, the European Union has been supporting both countries through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism together with €6.5 million in humanitarian aid.
Being located on a zone where three tectonic plates lay, Turkey’s geographical location makes it highly prone to earthquakes. The released pressure between these three plates triggers waves which shake the surface of the Earth causing earthquakes. February 2023 witnessed various earthquakes striking both Turkey and Syria, the most prominent being the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck at 4:17am local time on the 6th of February. The devastation was followed by a second earthquake of 7.5 magnitude on the very same day at 13:24pm. A second set of earthquakes hit the region on the 20th of February, the first of 6.4 magnitude and the other measuring 5.8.
The earthquake devastations have resulted in numerous deaths and multiple buildings and other infrastructure being destroyed with no electricity and water. The death toll currently stands above 50,000 people with the number of injured people standing at around 115,600. At least 24 million people have been affected, with around 3.4 million people being displaced.
The European Union had been a leading actor in offering emergency assistance to the affected countries. Following the request to activate the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU’s support for Turkey includes an allocation of €3 million for emergency assistance as a means to increase the response efforts. Furthermore EU Member States together with Albania, Montenegro and Serbia have offered their assistance by offering 31 search and rescue teams together with 5 medical teams to a total of over 1500 rescuers and 100 search and rescue dogs through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Shelter items including tents, heaters and blankets were offered by Germany, Lithuania, and Slovenia.
Syria has also received emergency assistance from the EU. These include €3.5 million for humanitarian emergency aid by the European Commission, used for water, shelter and hygiene products. This allocation of money will also be used to support any search and rescue operations. Assistance to the most vulnerable is offered by the United Nations and the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre and the Member States of the EU. Furthermore, the EU had been making all necessary adjustments to current humanitarian projects in regard to the natural disaster. Medical kits, food and water, shelter products and support to repair infrastructure are supported and offered by the EU’s partners, NGOs and UN agencies.