Türkiye can expect the global community’s full support as it deals with the aftermath of an “awful disaster,” according to the UK’s Development Minister Andrew Mitchell.
The international community “should express very strong support in all the different phases of this operation,” Mitchell told Anadolu as he toured a British field hospital in Turkoglu, a district in Kahramanmaras, the southern Turkish province that was the epicenter of the devastating Feb. 6 twin tremors.
Türkiye “has many friends, with Britain in the lead amongst them,” he emphasized.
The UK has been by Türkiye’s side from the very beginning, he said, sending vital supplies and a 77-member rescue team just days after the tragedy, which has now claimed at least 40,689 lives in 11 southern Turkish provinces.
Mitchell said that 150 members of the British team are working on the ground including in the field hospital and emergency medical clinics.
He described the situation in Türkiye’s quake-hit areas as “absolutely appalling.”
“It is quite extraordinary driving through the affected areas to see the scale of destruction. I have never seen anything like it,” he said.
On rescue and relief efforts, Mitchell said the “international response has been extremely good.”
“I’m impressed by how so many friends of Türkiye, and people who are not so close to Türkiye, have come here to support the rescue effort,” he said.
The minister said the first phase of quake relief efforts when “search and rescue experts and emergency medical teams were deployed” is now “heading towards an end.”
The next phase is “trying to deal with health and safety and also shelter issues,” according to Mitchell.
“Britain has sent something like 35,000 thermal blankets, 2,500 tents, dignity kits and hygiene kits. These are designed to help in this stage of the operation, and our extensive medical team here is doing everything it can to help people whose health has been harmed in one way or another,” he said.
“We got here as fast as we could and we are determined to help Türkiye right through this awful disaster.”
Mitchell met staff and patients at the hospital, which has been set up in the courtyard of a severely damaged public hospital and where more than 2,700 patients have been treated in less than a week.
The facility has Turkish teams, British civilian medics, and military doctors and personnel working together.
Earlier this week, Mitchell also unveiled a £25 million ($30 million) aid package to support quake victims in both Türkiye and Syria, where at least 5,840 people have been killed in several northwestern regions.
Asked about how the UK plans to support Türkiye in the longer term, he said Britain “will be at the side of the United Nations.”
“The UN has announced that they are drawing down $50 million from the CERF fund,” he said, referring to the Central Emergency Respond Fund set up by the UN in 2005.
“This is designed to help in emergencies. Britain has set up the CERF fund … we are a very big contributor and will be very pleased to see the fund deployed through the UN, along with all the other support that is going in to try and make sure those who are in these places get help.”
‘Closest of friends’
Turning to bilateral ties, Mitchell hailed Türkiye and the UK as “closest of friends.”
“We have strong political connections. We have development connections. We have security connections. We are leading partners in NATO … we are as close to Türkiye as anyone can be,” he asserted.
The UK’s connection with Türkiye was evident in the British people’s “affection and love … and extraordinary support” for the call to raise funds for quake victims, he added.
“British people, from their own pockets, have raised £85 million ($102 million) … and it shows the very close relationship which exists between Türkiye and Britain.”Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.