The EU is hosting an international donors’ conference today to support earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson have invited to Brussels to collect donations for relief and reconstruction measures after the disaster. Sweden currently holds the presidency of the EU states.

On February 6, two earthquakes measuring 7.7 and a little later measuring 7.6 shook southeast Turkey and northern Syria. In all, more than 50,000 people lost their lives and millions were left homeless. Millions of people live in emergency shelters.

“Disaster of historic proportions”

It is expected that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also take part in the meeting via video link. According to the Commission, the conference coordinated with Turkey should be open to EU countries, neighboring countries, members of the United Nations and international financial institutions.

“The earthquakes in Turkey and Syria are a catastrophe of historic proportions,” Prime Minister Kristersson said before the conference. Together with the EU and international partners, Sweden will do everything possible to help those affected to rebuild. Von der Leyen emphasized: “Our support will remain as strong as it was in the first hours after the earthquake. The people in Turkey and Syria should know that we will stand by them in the long term.”

“Drawing attention to the plight in Syria”

According to the Commission, almost EUR 12 million in humanitarian aid has been made available to Turkey by the EU so far. In addition, there would be around 10 million euros in emergency aid for the earthquake victims in Syria. In addition, 16 EU countries are participating in the aid for Syria via the so-called EU civil protection procedure. Millions of aid supplies have already been made available to Turkey by 20 EU countries – including medical equipment, hygiene items, food and warm clothing.

“Apparently it took the catastrophe within the catastrophe to draw attention to the need in Syria again,” emphasized the head of Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, Martin Kessler, in advance. “The misery of millions has worsened – especially in the north.”

In Turkey, eleven provinces are affected by the earthquake, in Syria the north-west. There is only scant information about the situation from the civil war country. In the face of years of bombardment and fighting, many people there were already living in precarious conditions before the tremors. The EU provides support in both government-controlled and non-government-controlled areas.