People search for survivors under the rubble following an earthquake in Diyarbakir, Turkey. (Photo: Reuters)
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in London expresses its deep sorrow over the deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria and resulted in the loss of lives and livelihoods, including among Palestinian refugees living in the region.
The combined death toll from the two large earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday has reached at least 1,500 people, including Palestinian refugees. Rescuers are racing to pull survivors from beneath the rubble after the powerful earthquake ripped through the region, leaving destruction and debris on each side of the border.
PRC has been alarmed by the news of this earthquake, which shook residents from their beds at the crack of dawn, sending tremors as far away as Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Palestinian refugees are reported to be among the victims. PRC extends condolences to the victims’ families over the loss of lives and wishes a swift recovery to the injured.
The images of collapsed buildings and people huddling in the freezing cold beside them, waiting for help are just shocking.
PRC calls on the international community and United Nations bodies, namely UNRWA, to urgently step in in order to assist vulnerable Palestinian refugee families along with their Syrian and Turkish neighbours.
In Turkey, at least 912 people have died and 5,385 are injured. In neighboring Syria, at least 592 people have died, including 371 mostly in the regions of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus.
There are many reports of complete families buried under the rubble of those buildings. Hospitals are overwhelmed with the number of crush and trauma injuries. At least one hospital in northern Syria is being evacuated after its structure was compromised.
UNRWA should work to provide hospitals with equipment to assist the wounded. Affected Palestinian families should also receive humanitarian assistance and be provided with temporary shelter and food items pending their full recovery from the tragic quake.
PRC calls on the international community to release emergency funds to provide aid and ensure lives are saved during this crisis. Countless families have become homeless yet again and are in desperate need of shelter, medical aid, food, and sources for heat.
Palestinian refugees and other people in Turkey and Syria need urgent support immediately. Countless lives are at stake. A massive scale up is needed and PRC will be part of it.