Türkiye-Syria earthquake: Belgium to send €5 million in aid, field hospital accepted by Türkiye

Belgium is sending €5 million in humanitarian aid to Türkiye and Syria, which were hit by a massive earthquake on Monday, announced Belgian Development minister Caroline Gennez on Wednesday afternoon. She is also calling for the border between the two countries to be opened so that life-saving aid can reach the affected area and victims in Syria.

Four million euros will go to the United Nations cross-border fund for Syria, which is a "lifeline for those in need in the conflict zone", according to the minister. The final million will go to the Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Both funds support local aid organisations and NGOs, which know the situation on the ground and the affected areas well, "and are therefore best placed to assist as quickly and efficiently as possible", said Gennez. "The humanitarian needs are enormous. We must show solidarity with the people in Turkey and Syria, and provide aid quickly."

The Syrian government has also formally requested aid from the European Union. President Bashar al-Assad's regime is supported by Russia and Iran but shunned by the West. European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic encouraged member states to contribute but rejected Syrian demands to lift European sanctions against the country. The sanctions "in no way hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid or emergency assistance," assured Lenarcic.

Financial donations are the most efficient way to help

Aid agency Caritas International asks Belgian citizens to help the victims with financial donations. Sending materials from Belgium "is not the most efficient way" to provide aid, as most are also available locally, humanitarian coordinator Sébastien Dechamps told RTBF. "The aim is to raise as much money as possible and send it to partners as quickly as possible to make purchases locally. That's faster, more efficient and cheaper."

Finally, Turkish authorities have accepted Belgium's offer to send a so-called B-Fast Emergency Medical Team (EMT 2), which will provide medical assistance to the earthquake-hit country with a field hospital. This was reported by the cabinet of Belgian Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

The Belgian EMT is the second European field hospital that was accepted by Türkiye, and the sixth worldwide, Vandenbroucke said. The Belgian EMT left for a reconnaissance mission on Wednesday. Their mission is to find a good spot for the field hospital so that it can be built up from next weekend and be operational by next Thursday at the latest.

By now, the death toll in the two countries has risen to more than 11,200. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke of 50,000 wounded, Syrian authorities and aid workers referred to 5,000 injured people.


The volunteer convoy of Belgian governmental aid organisation B-Fast (Belgian First Aid and Support Team) departs to Türkiye. © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND


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