NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said the alliance is setting up temporary housing in Turkey and will use its strategic airlift capabilities to transport humanitarian aid to Turkey, which was devastated last week by two major earthquakes.
In a visit to Ankara on Thursday, Stoltenberg said NATO would be sending “tens of thousands of tents” to the country for quake survivors who were left homeless.
A 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck near the Turkish city of Gaziantep – home to around 2 million people and on the border with Syria – as people were sleeping on February 6 was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.
“This is the deadliest natural disaster on alliance territory since NATO was founded,” he said, adding that NATO would use its “strategic airlift capabilities” to transport aid more quickly.
Stoltenberg visited Incirlik Air Base, which is playing a vital role in the relief effort, and overflew Hatay province, which was severely affected by the earthquakes.
The Turkish Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate announced on Tuesday that 33,143 buildings in 13 provinces were severely damaged by the earthquakes.
A total of 6,849 buildings are “moderately damaged,” while around 60,000 are only slightly damaged and 108,840 buildings suffered no damage, the ministry said.
The UN launched a $1 billion funding appeal on Thursday to support millions of people in Turkey.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that the funds would provide humanitarian relief for three months to 5.2 million people. The money would “allow aid organizations to rapidly scale up vital support,” including in the areas of food security, protection, education, water and shelter, he added.