The European Commission has announced its donors will provide Turkey and Syria with seven billion euros to assist with reconstruction efforts following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred last month.
The disaster claimed the lives of more than 52,000 people, primarily in Turkey, and damaged or destroyed nearly 300,000 buildings. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU’s executive arm, also pledged €108 million in humanitarian aid for Syria at a donors’ conference held in Brussels to raise funds for the two countries. The conference, hosted by the European Commission and Sweden, was attended by representatives from NGOs, G-20 and UN members, and international financial institutions. In total, donors pledged €7 billion to aid recovery in Turkey and Syria, though Ankara estimates the cost of rebuilding at more than €104 billion.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC), which is responding to the humanitarian crisis in the region, has called on donors to fully fund the UN’s appeal for $1 billion and $397 million for Turkey and Syria, respectively. The IRC’s Country Director in Syria, Tanya Evans, emphasised that the most vulnerable people affected by the earthquake urgently need life-saving items such as food, shelter, clothing, and clean water, as well as support for the healthcare system. Evans warned that failure to provide this assistance would come at a high cost to those in need.
The situation in the region remains critical, and the UN estimates that 15.3 million Syrians, out of a population of 21.3 million, required humanitarian assistance prior to the earthquake. The EU has been providing aid to Syria since 2011 and has pledged €950 million of the total funds raised to assist those affected by the earthquake. However, the bloc does not plan to contribute to the reconstruction of the war-torn country due to ongoing EU sanctions against the regime of President Bashar Assad, which remain in place because of his regime's continued crackdown on civilians.
The earthquake hit rebel-held northwest Syria particularly hard, and survivors in this area have received minimal aid due to deep divisions exacerbated by the country's 12-year war. The donors' conference aims to address this issue and demonstrate solidarity with those affected by the disaster.
Sweden's Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, who co-chaired the conference, emphasised that the €7 billion pledge sent a message that those affected were not alone. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who addressed the conference via videolink, discussed the challenges of reconstruction efforts, which have been complicated by recent deadly floods in the earthquake zone. Erdogan stated that some of the aftershocks have been equal in magnitude to a separate earthquake and highlighted that the country has been dealing with flood disasters and challenging weather conditions.
The international community has pledged funds to assist with the reconstruction of Turkey and Syria following a devastating earthquake last month. Though significant funds have been raised, the total amount falls well short of Turkey’s estimate of more than €104 billion required for rebuilding. Nonetheless, the donors' conference demonstrates the international community’s solidarity with those affected and emphasises the need for continued aid to support the most vulnerable populations in the region.