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Solidarity call with the earthquake survivors and grassroots initiatives in Turkey and Syria

February 8, 2023
The heart-bleeding human suffering in Turkey and Syria cannot be explained solely by the massive scale of the two consecutive earthquakes, which impacted ten major cities in Turkey and a vast area in north-west Syria. The enormity of the figures both in terms of casualties and devastation is also a consequence of the state's long-lasting negligence of its duty to take precautions against the threat of an earthquake in the region and its profit-oriented priorities that turned the impacted cities into concrete jungles for the construction sector. According to the latest official figures, the death toll is over 15,000 (a number which increases on an hourly basis) in Turkey, and the number of injured is over 50,000. Around 14 million people have been impacted by the earthquake. The total number of buildings and houses in the cities and villages impacted by the earthquake is around four million. It is estimated that 400,000 of these buildings and houses either collapsed or seriously damaged. This means around 4 million people either do not have homes any more or their homes are uninhabitable. It is estimated that there are still over 180,000 people under the rubble, whose chances of being rescued alive are diminishing every minute. 
In Turkey, there are places which have been waiting for rescue teams for over 48 hours. People whose homes are gone do not have tents or temporary shelters. If they are lucky enough to have a car, they sleep there to protect from the freezing cold. Most of them are faced with the danger of frostbite and hypothermia. There is not enough food, water, electricity, and the Internet coverage is restricted. Phone services are not available at numerous spots. In the region, not only residences but also public and private hospitals collapsed, so did the health provision services. In the streets, there are dead or injured people covered with blankets. In the region, there are also hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, equally impacted by the disaster and in need of aid.  
The death toll in Syria is said to be over 3,000. There are thousands of people who are seriously injured. There is not enough equipment in the parts of the north-west controlled by the opposition. People are desperately trying to rescue their loved ones with their own efforts. 
In Turkey, people hear the voices of their loved ones, relatives, or neighbours from under the rubble, but there is no rescue team or heavy equipment or necessary tools to save them. Huge cities look like war zones destroyed by an atomic bomb. People started to raid the groceries and pharmacies because there is no access to food and medicine. 
The chaos in the region is a consequence of the lack of coordination between the state and civil actors as well as a lack of utilization of state resources. There is an association called AFAD (The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency) whose total number of employees is only six thousand. They are obviously insufficient in every measure.
The governing party (the AKP - the Justice and Development Party) has been in power for twenty-one years now. The warnings by the scientists about a possible earthquake in the region were not only neglected again and again but due to frequent zoning amnesties and promotion of the construction sector at the expense of human life, people were left to reside in vulnerable buildings in the face of earthquakes. The government has not taken any serious measure that would reduce the impact of a disaster, and whenever such a proposition was tabled, they turned their head to the other side. 
The Turkish state has the fifth strongest army of NATO and the total number of soldiers it has is around 600,000. There are 250,000 police officers and 200,000 gendarme personnel in total working for the state. AFAD has only six thousand employees. The Turkish state and the current government on top of it is notorious for its ability for mobilizing its military capacity for war. All these military and police institutions are funded by taxes from the poor. When the poor need rescue teams, heavy equipment, and public/private resources to be mobilized, they are faced with a paralyzed state - a state which finally resorted to a State of Emergency in the 10 cities impacted by the disaster to prevent any public grievance from being heard. They also banned Twitter as of February 8. It was only a few hours before this statement was drafted did the government deploy 9,000 soldiers for the purposes of rescue and relief. 
On the other hand, from the day one onwards, all trade unions, chambers of architects and engineers, doctors’ associations and many more community and labour organizations have been collecting donations, hiring trucks for delivery and volunteering for rescue work. We are witnessing the emergence of an incredible network of grassroots initiatives that extend their hands to the people in the region. 
Those of us grieving deeply for the people in Turkey and in Syria urge everyone to extend their solidarity with the people in the region. We are also aware that solidarity means understanding the political culprits for the scale of the disaster and holding them accountable. The neoliberal government whose policies prioritized construction companies, businesses and their rich clients for decades is responsible for the size of the damage. Having bitterly experienced the fatal consequences of these policies, people in the region are not only in a state of mourning and anguish for their loved ones and lost homes but also in a deep state of anger and rage towards the state and the government. We deeply empathize with their feelings and humbly share their desperation.
Disaster capitalism kills, but solidarity keeps alive!
If you would like to contribute to the existing campaigns in solidarity with the earthquake survivors in Turkey, we are sharing a couple of links.

For a donation, you can use the following link: 
Below is an information portal created by the METU students to centralize the useful information for donation and assistance available: 
If you would directly buy a tent or a sleeping bag for the survivors, the following link has been created by the METU Alumni Association in collaboration with METU alumni has been collecting donations and arranging the logistics of delivery with the help of METU students, academic and administrative staff:
Also, there are some international organisations where you can donate to help the rescue and relief work in Syria.
Here there is a link for Canadian Red Cross: 
Here is the link for the donation page of UNHCR.
-- -- A group of graduate workers and academics from Turkey
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