Kazakhstan rushed to help Turkey out. What should it do to help Syria?

Senior news correspondent
Turkey and Syria are still confronting the consequences of the earthquakes / Shutterstock

More than 60 countries including Kazakhstan took quick actions to help Turkey and Syria when a set of powerful quakes hit these two countries on February 6. The earthquake destroyed thousands of buildings in ten provinces of Turkey and four provinces of Syria. Kazakhstan has sent to Turkey the necessary goods and dispatched its rescue team to help Turkish civil defense specialists.

What Kazakhstan has done to assist Turkey

Immediately after the tragedy on February 6, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev expressed his condolences to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. He also ordered the cabinet to allocate $1 million for Turkey.

«Our Foreign and Emergency Ministries keep in touch with the Turkish authorities. Kazakhstani rescuers and health workers are going to depart for Turkey very soon,» stated the president’s press service at the time.

On February 7, a team of 100 Kazakhstani rescuers, health specialists and detector dog handlers led by Emergency Minister Ibragim Kulshimbayev went to Turkey to take part in a massive rescue operation. 

Kazakhstani specialists managed to save seven people. They also pulled 88 bodies out of the rubble.

Many people, including entrepreneurs, bloggers, journalists and public figures in Kazakhstan, also wanted to help. According to the Ministry of Information and Social Development, Kazakhstanis donated more than 100 million tenge. Also, Kazakhstani volunteers sent 150 yurts to Turkey as a shelter for those who lost their houses. 

Various ethnocultural centers also collected 125 million tenge in donations. In addition, these centers sent essential supplies worth 54.4 million tenge to Turkey.

The prominent fintech company Kaspi provided Kazakhstanis with an opportunity to donate directly to the National Volunteer Network and Turkish AFAD via its mobile app. According to the Turkish embassy in Kazakhstan, AFAD received more than $3 million in donations from Kazakhstan.

The Consulate General of Kazakhstan in Istanbul, those Kazakhstanis who work or study in Turkey and the Kazakh diaspora in this country also donated $160,000 to help people affected by the disaster.

On February 15, the cabinet decided to send 55 tons of humanitarian aid to Turkey.

On February 19, the first team of Kazakhstani rescuers arrived in Almaty. On February 20, the second team of rescuers also went to the country. As a result of the rescue operation, Kazakhstani medical specialists helped more than 200,000 locals, while rescuers cleared about 250,000 cubic meters of rubble with the help of professional equipment and with their bare hands.

Why help for Syria turned to be limited

Syria has been suffering from the shocks of the civil war since 2011. The earthquake hit the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Ham and Idlib, where the government of Bashar Assad (backed by Russia and Iran) controls only part of the territory. The other part of these provinces is under the control of the Syrian opposition, which receives military assistance from several Western states, Turkey and the gulf countries. As a result, apart from bad weather, poor roads and lack of equipment, international teams of rescuers faced difficulties in getting access to stricken areas in Syria.

However, many countries, including Kazakhstan, Iran, the UAE, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, Armenia, Russia, Oman, India, Libya, Pakistan and Venezuela sent humanitarian help to Syria anyway.

On February 9, President Tokayev ordered the cabinet to send humanitarian help to Syria via the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. On February 10, the press service of the prime minister announced that Kazakhstan sent Syria 50 tons of humanitarian aid like clothes, preserved food, winter tents, beds and bedclothes.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Kazakhstan has allocated more than 160 million tenge to support Syrian people hit by the quake.

The National Volunteer Network still urges Kazakhstanis to donate to Syria.

Earthquake consequences

As Reuters reported, the series of quakes in Turkey and Syria took the lives of 47,000 people.

The World Health Organization calls on the world community to allocate $84.5 million for Turkey and Syria to cope with the problems these countries face in the sphere of healthcare. This money is needed to support wounded people and acquire necessary drugs.

A preliminary estimate by Fitch Ratings shows that Turkey and Syria faced $4 billion in damage. This figure is likely to grow given that the two countries are still reporting new tremors. The last quake recently struck the province of Hatay, with a magnitude of 6.4, six casualties and 294 wounded.

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