WASHINGTON – The United States said on Thursday it will provide $85 million in urgent humanitarian assistance to Turkey and Syria after a massive earthquake that killed more than 20,000 people.
The announcement by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) came shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, their second call in four days.
The death toll across both countries has now surpassed the more than 17,000 killed in 1999 when a similarly powerful quake hit northwest Turkey.
Hundreds of thousands of people in both countries have been left homeless in the middle of winter. Many have camped out in makeshift shelters in supermarket car parks, mosques, roadsides or amid the ruins, often desperate for food, water and heat.
“This new funding is supporting USAID’s humanitarian partners to deliver urgently-needed aid for millions of people in Türkiye and in Syria,” USAID said in a statement.
Washington has already sent to Turkey teams consisting of around 160 people and 12 dogs, whose top priority is to help save people from under thousands of collapsed buildings. Paramedics, emergency responders, hazardous material technicians and others have already arrived.
Blinken’s call with Cavusoglu was to understand from Ankara “what they would like to see from the United States” in terms of assistance from the United States in the aftermath of the disaster, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told a daily briefing.
“The foreign minister (Cavusoglu) did offer to Secretary Blinken some specifics. We will do everything we possibly can to fulfill the needs that the Turks have put forward,” Price said.
US helicopters are helping rescue personnel reach difficult to access areas and Washington is pre-positioning relief equipment it hopes will join the recovery efforts, Price said.
Washington is also sending concrete breakers, generators, medical supplies, tents, water and water purification systems, he added. — Reuters