'Apocalyptic,' says UN food agency chief of earthquake-hit Turkey
United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley on Saturday revealed he witnessed "apocalyptic" scenes during his recent visit to earthquake-hit areas in southern Turkey. Moreover, referring to the past 12 years of civil war in Syria, Beasley said that the situation in the country after the series of devastating temblors amounted to a "catastrophe on top of a catastrophe."
Why does this story matter?
- Beasley's comments come days after his recent visit to Turkey and Syria, the two countries that were hit by a powerful quake of magnitude 7.8 on February 6, followed by several major earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks, which killed more than 50,000 people so far.
- As per reports, more than 160,000 buildings consisting of 520,000 apartments were severely damaged or destroyed in Turkey.
Scale of devastation truly incomprehensible: Beasley
After his recent visit to Antakya in Turkey's Hatay, Beasley said, "There is only one way to describe what I saw today: apocalyptic." "Entire neighborhoods have been flattened; homes destroyed; schools and shops closed; lives torn apart. The scale of devastation here is truly incomprehensible," the top UN official said in a video posted on Twitter.
Beasley bats for scaling up food deliveries to Syria
According to the WFP, Beasley visited a hub of UN logistics where trucks get loaded with food and other supplies before they head into northwest Syria. As per Reuters, the UN official also emphasized the urgency of increasing food deliveries to Syria "through all routes - without any restrictions" while urging "all parties to facilitate access."
Twitter post by Beasley
Our teams are going all out: WFP chief
In another video post on Twitter, the top UN official wrote on Saturday: "I'm here in Turkiye, where [WFP] is supporting nearly 1 million people impacted by these devastating earthquakes." "Our teams are going all out - from delivering hot meals & family food packages to setting up 500+ mobile kitchens with local partners," he added.
Video of Beasley speaking from Turkey
Situation in rebel-controlled northwest Syria
The northwest part of Syria is mainly under the control of opposition groups, who are at war with President Bashar al-Assad, and has a large population that is already dependent on aid even for basic necessities. Notably, in order to increase aid deliveries in these areas, authorities reportedly need to open additional crossings from Turkey into the rebel-controlled parts.
WFP reached nearly 1 million people in Turkey, Syria: Beasley
Speaking to the news outlet WION last week at the recently concluded Munich Security Conference in Germany, Beasley said, "You got to reach everybody in need doesn't matter where they are. So we at WFP reached about 800,000 in Turkey and 200,000 people in Syria." "The Syrian government has been working with us on access cross border," he added.
Turkey president vows to rebuild homes within year
On Monday, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that new housing construction in earthquake-hit zones would start by March, with the government creating a $106 million investment aid package for the affected. In his attempt to woo voters ahead of the upcoming polls in the country, Erdogan also vowed to rebuild these homes within a year.
Death toll from earthquakes in Syria, Turkey crosses 50,000
The total death toll from the devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey has crossed 50,000. As per Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), 44,218 deaths were recorded on Friday, while Syria reported 5,914 people deaths. Al Jazeera reported that almost 530,000 people had been evacuated from the disaster zones, adding approximately 240,000 rescue workers were still working in Turkey's 11 earthquake-struck provinces.