The dramatic toll of the earthquake that between Monday night and Tuesday night devastated entire towns – razing them to the ground – between Turkey and Syria, the latter already battered by 12 years of war, is still rising. The latest merciless toll counts almost 10,000 victims, while people continue to dig by all means, even with their bare hands, in the search for survivors. According to the World Health Organization, more than 20 million people are affected by the devastation of the earthquake.
The Order of Malta’s international relief agency – Malteser International – has sent a rescue team to Gaziantep in southern Turkey, close to the epicentre of the earthquake. Meanwhile, the Order of Malta’s solidarity machine has been set in motion, under the coordination of Malteser International. Many associations are taking action to bring humanitarian aid to the affected areas. The Order of Malta’s Hungarian relief service is organising relief operations in Aleppo using mobile clinics.
The cold temperatures with rain and snow make both the rescue operations and the conditions for the survivors even more difficult. There is an urgent need for blankets, mattresses, tents, hot meals and medicines. Malteser International has already allocated EUR 400,000 as a first emergency relief measure and is coordinating the next steps in cooperation with local relief organisations.
“This disaster will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people. Many of them were already facing the effects of conflict and displacement on a daily basis since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. We have been helping them since 2012. And we will continue our efforts for as long as it takes,” said Lieutenant Grand Master Fra’ John Dunlap, who yesterday sent a message of condolence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing solidarity with the Turkish people on behalf of the entire Order of Malta.
Photo-Credit: Malteser International