Earthquake: Kurdish communities worry over lack of aid in aftermath

Concerns have been raised over the level of support that Kurdish residents are receiving after a major set of earthquakes hit Southern Turkey on Monday.

The 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes occurred just hours apart earlier this week. As of February 10, the death toll exceeded 20,000 in Turkey and Northern Syria.

Lawand, a member of the Manchester Kurdish Society said: “I’m speaking to people there, they all still have missing relatives.”

Whilst many Kurds living in Manchester are Iraqi Kurds, most in London hail from cities within Turkey. These communities are providing essential support. Lawand said: “It’s really been a grassroots initiative.” 

Whilst aid has been constant at a community level, there are low expectations for a similar response from the Turkish government. Lawand added: “From what people are saying on the ground, they haven’t received any state aid.”

For many Kurds in Southern Turkey, the devastation left by earthquakes is not unfamiliar. A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Van in 2011, killing 604 people and injuring over 4,000 others.

Rescue workers survey ruins in Van, Turkey after the 2011 earthquake. Image source: AKUT Search and Rescue Association

Lawand once again expressed that aid for Kurdish communities lacked significantly. He said: “Now there are charities claiming to raise money, in 2011 there wasn’t much initiative taken by a lot of these charities.

“A lot of Kurds really don’t trust the state… they follow a pattern of neglect in Kurdish areas.”

Concern has also been raised over the fact that Monday’s earthquakes were predicted last Friday by Frank Hoogerbeets of Solar System Geometry Survey, yet nothing was done in response.  

It has also been reported that access to Twitter has been restricted in Turkey after growing criticism towards President Erdogan’s response to the disaster.

However, the support from communities still remains. Lawand stated: “The Turkish community in Manchester is also organising trucks full of clothing. In London, they (Kurds) managed to raise £100,000 in just one night.”

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