Over 100 tonnes of emergency relief supplies were airlifted to Turkey today in the wake of devastating earthquakes that have so far claimed more than 42,000 lives.
he aid consists of Ireland’s largest-ever airlift of humanitarian supplies and includes 700 tents, 9,000 thermal blankets, 3,000 solar lamps, 3,000 hygiene kits, 3,000 kitchen sets and 3,000 water jerry cans. It is worth more than €800,000.
The items will be distributed by Irish Aid partners, Concern and Goal, who aim to reach 42,000 people in the affected regions. These stock deployments are part of Ireland’s €10 million allocation in response to the earthquakes.
The airlift left the UN’s Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai this afternoon and will arrive in Adana in Turkey, from where it will be brought onwards to affected areas.
Ireland is also preparing an additional airlift of emergency relief items for Northwest Syria. This is being coordinated through the International Organisation for Migration and in cooperation with the EU. The first airlift is expected on Saturday, with a further airlift planned for next week.
“This is the largest ever deployment of emergency stocks under Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative, which is a reflection of the scale of devastation in Turkey and Syria,” Tánaiste Micheál Martin said.
“The death toll continues to rise, and hundreds of thousands are grieving for loved ones while enduring unbearable conditions. Many survivors are sleeping in cars or makeshift shelters in sub-zero temperatures. These emergency items from Ireland’s prepositioned stocks will provide immediate support, meeting vital shelter, water, and hygiene needs,” Mr Martin said.
GOAL will distribute the emergency items to victims of this harrowing earthquake, in the disaster hit regions over the coming days and weeks.
In Northwest Syria, where GOAL’s 950 staff were already providing humanitarian aid to 1.5 million people, aid stocks were fortunately largely spared from the destruction.
The aid agency has therefore been using existing stocks to provide food, water and other essentials to thousands of people in the week after the earthquakes and prioritising the setup of emergency latrines for people living in displacement settings.
In addition, GOAL is preparing to provide cash and voucher assistance to people left with nothing in the aftermath of the earthquakes.
Lorraine Marriot, GOAL’s Middle East Regional Director, spoke of relief efforts being delivered by her colleagues who themselves have lost so much.
“GOAL teams live and work in the areas most impacted by the earthquakes. Many have lost their homes, loved ones, friends and colleagues, but we are still responding to the urgent humanitarian needs of people in the wake of such devastation and loss. We are supporting our colleagues in Türkiye and Syria, whose lives have been turned upside down, as they in turn support so many others around them.”
GOAL lost 28 employees to the earthquake, with more still missing.
Ms Marriot also spoke of the need for more support as “supplies are finite, and the entire humanitarian effort here urgently needs financial support”.
“People here have experienced crisis after crisis and 12 years of perpetual conflict. 90pc of people were already reliant on humanitarian aid, and are now even more reliant on it for their survival. The earthquake may soon no longer be headline news, but people’s needs will be great for some time to come.“
Minister of State for International Development Seán Fleming said that it is “difficult to comprehend the scale of destruction” in Turkey and Syria, and said many have “lost their families, their homes and all their possessions in a single night.”
“This airlift highlights the value of Ireland having prepositioned emergency supplies, so we can respond quickly when a disaster occurs”.