On Feb. 6 at approximately 4:17 a.m., a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck a minimum of ten provinces of southern Turkey as well as western Syrian cities of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Idlib, leaving a magnitude of loss, sadness, frustration and hopelessness.
As of press time, the AP has reported the death toll surpassing 40,000 from this tragic disaster. According to World Vision, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency in the damaged areas, as 13 million out of 85 million citizens have already been affected by this.
“Everybody in the world is feeling the pain now, so help is arriving to the area,” said Dr. Tolga Kaya, SHU’s director of engineering. “However, help needs to be sustained for months, if not years, which will be challenging.”
Skepticism has been heightened from the aftermath of the earthquake. Contractors of both countries have been the primary target due to the lower probability of people surviving within these few, miniscule spaces of the buildings and survivors often being found in the rubble.
According to AP, the now nonexistent buildings of Turkey and Syria were improperly constructed. The infrastructure was doomed in withstanding the quake, which generated further frustration and outrage from both countries.
Although there has been mobilization on a global level regarding relief efforts, there is a projected question if it will be enough for the Turkish and Syrian communities to recover in the long-term.
“[SHU] sent out an email, but I don’t think it’s enough. A lot of people are talking about it on social media, but on campus right now I want students to know about it as well,” said sophomore Busra Kahraman. “We are the voice of our generation and I think if we talk about it, it will help spread the word.”
Dr. Isil Akbulut Gok in the department of political science and global affairs said that this support needs to continue past the state of initial shock.
“So far, the global community has offered generous earthquake assistance. Many organizations and countries offered to help rescue efforts and indeed, have sent search and rescue teams and aid,” Gok said. “However, it is important to note that donations usually occur in the early days of disasters, and then the world moves on and affected places and people are forgotten.”
Syria has endured severe political turmoil that has delayed aid convoys from being sent. Due to this matter, millions of lives will continue to be jeopardized and the damage of this disaster will pose a threat for the economies of both countries.
“Turkey is one of the largest economies in the world, but some sources estimate that the economic toll could reach $84 billion, which is roughly ten percent of Turkey’s GDP,” said Gok. “Syria is a war-ravaged country, which is already in shambles. Its economy will take years to recover. I hope that disaster relief will not be squandered and wasted.”
Millions of people have been impacted, including members of the SHU community who have endured suffering from this tragic disaster.
“A close relative of my father died unfortunately on Feb. 8. He was found dead under the rubble and concrete. My mom’s friend, she lost half of her family,” said Kahraman. “Everyone’s lost something whether it’s a sense of hope, a family member or a loved one.”
Kaya’s close friends who live in the affected areas shared stories of what they have seen and experienced themselves.
“They find babies who are alive without any parents around. Nobody knows who they are,” said Kaya. “A minimum wage man died, leaving his wife and two kids. They needed just a few dollars to go to their relatives’ apartment in another city. They were on the streets, under rain.”
AKUT, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and more are also reliant organizations. For more information on how to support the relief and rebuilding efforts, search your inbox for an email sent by Campus Ministry titled “Supporting Our Friends in Turkey and Syria” and Dr. Gary Rose’s email, “Earthquake in Turkey and Syria.”