HomeWorld6,600 foreigners, mostly Syrians, killed in Turkey’s earthquakes

6,600 foreigners, mostly Syrians, killed in Turkey’s earthquakes


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A new report from Turkey says the death toll in the earthquake has now risen to 48,448 and that of those around 6,660 are believed to be foreign nationals.

This number comes from comments in Turkish media that was reported by Anadolu in Turkey.

“6,660 of the dead were foreign nationals,” Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said at a news conference, according to the report. This statement was made “in quake-hit Malatya province along with Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy,” the report said.  

Most of the foreign dead in Turkey from earthquakes are Syrian

The earthquakes took place on February 6, last month. They affected many provinces in Turkey, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. The report said that more than 13.5 million people have been affected. 

The large number of foreigners killed, more than 10% percent of the victims, points to a disproportionate affect on foreign nationals, particularly Syrians. It is believed most of the foreign victims were Syrians. The number 6,600 likely means that other missing Syrians will also be added to this number, perhaps as many as 10,000 eventually. The overall number of Syrians killed is not known.

A rescue team works on a collapsed building, following an earthquake in Antakya, Turkey February 6, 2023. (credit: UMIT BEKTAS/REUTERS)

In Syria itself, thousands were also killed in areas controlled by the opposition and the regime. Access to medical care is difficult in Syria and there was not adequate assistance to help people out of the rubble.  

Meanwhile, in Turkey, there is a focus on inadequate support for the victims of the earthquake. Turkey is facing an election in May and the government will want to portray itself as doing all it can to help people find missing relatives and also provide them shelter in the coming months. However, it’s not clear if the government will be able to do enough or how it will manage voting in the impacted provinces.

Syrian refugees in Turkey are also facing obstacles to travel and where they can reside after the earthquake. Because it affected areas with a large population of Syrian refugees, they will also need housing and solutions for their needs.

This could create and added crisis in Turkey because there is rising racism against Syrians and other refugees and this kind of rhetoric may increase before the election.  

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