Student opinion – We need to help Turkey and Syria

Leaving over 50,000 dead and creating a path of merciless destruction, an earthquake in the Middle East continues to make news headlines. 

On Monday morning of Feb. 6, residents near the Turkey-Syria border were violently awoken by quaking ground and crumbling buildings. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit their homes. The earthquake reached a depth of 11 miles near Nurdağı in the Gaziantep province, located close to the Syrian border. Minutes later, the quake caused a 6.7-magnitude aftershock. According to U.S. Geological Survey, “The largest aftershock at the time of writing was a (7.5-magnitude) aftershock which struck 95 km (about 60 miles) to the north.” People were affected by both quakes. 

Survivors were rescued from the rubble two weeks after the quake. As crucial time passes on, the United Nations authorities have commented that they are moving forward from the rescue phase to focus on providing shelter, food and schooling to the remaining survivors. With the continued damages, the U.S. continues to provide humanitarian aid to the countries. As of Feb. 19, the U.S. provided over $185 million in humanitarian assistance over the course of the past month. 

Both countries remain in crisis as they shift to survival mode. Many victims struggle with nothing left during critical weather conditions. Vox published, “Freezing temperatures, road blockages, and social unrest are complicating humanitarian aid and recovery efforts, despite having more than 100,000 rescue personnel in Turkey and Syria.”

 On top of the tremendous misery this event caused, Turkey and Syria remain heavily affected economically by the earthquake. The World Health Organization estimates that 23 million people, including 1.4 million children, could face the repercussions of this disaster.  Reuters writes, “The Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation reported the cost for damages to be $84.1 billion — $70.8 billion from the repair of thousands of homes, $10.4 billion from loss of national income and $2.9 billion from loss of working days.” 

Amid the chaos, countries are stepping up to aid Turkey and Syria. The United States sent two search and rescue teams consisting of 158 persons. The World Health Organization dispatched emergency supplies and medical groups. The International Committee of the Red Cross provided surgical material and donated canned food, blankets, mattresses and essential items for distribution to shelters. The European Union sent 27 search and rescue teams, which have been mobilized to search for survivors in Turkey. 

As we progress with technological advancements, how can we lower the casualties caused by natural disasters? The Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters records that natural disasters affect 218 million people and claim 68,000 lives annually. In the last 25 years, almost 7,000 natural disasters have killed over 1.35 million people. 

Educating people on how to prepare before a natural disaster can minimize the impact of such events on the public. Moving forward, we need to continue to help both countries. Utilizing the foreign policy the U.S. experienced in the past, humanitarian efforts should be continually funded. Spreading awareness of the problem and donating to relief efforts conducted by organizations like United Way Worldwide can ease the hardship for those affected.  

Garcia is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter

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