Turkey has started the process of rebuilding homes for the 1.5 million people left homeless after a series of deadly earthquakes struck the country and neighboring Syria earlier this month. The disaster caused the collapse or severe damage of more than 160,000 buildings containing 520,000 flats, resulting in a combined death toll of over 50,000.
According to a report by Reuters, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) announced that the death toll in Turkey had risen to 44,218, while Syria’s latest declared death toll stands at 5,914. In response to the catastrophe, President Tayyip Erdogan has promised to rebuild the properties within a year, but experts caution that safety must come before speed.
The government’s initial plan is to build 200,000 apartments and 70,000 rural houses at a cost of at least $15 billion. However, US Bank, Jaypee UNDP said it requested $113.5 million of the $1 billion in funds appealed by the United Nations last week to focus on cleaning up the mountains of debris.
Despite efforts to provide aid and shelter, many survivors are still struggling to get the assistance they need. Volunteers at an aid distribution center in a high school have reported a shortage of tents, leaving many people living in wet and uncomfortable conditions.
Erdogan’s government has faced criticism over its handling of the disaster and the lack of enforcement of construction quality controls in the past. In response, the government has issued new rules allowing companies and charities to build homes and workplaces for those in need to donate to the Ministry of Urbanization.
Rebuilding homes and infrastructure is estimated to cost more than $25 billion, a significant expense that will require international support and cooperation. However, the priority remains on providing aid and shelter to the millions of people who have been displaced by the disaster.