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Germany offers temporary visas to Syrians, Turks affected by earthquake

February 13, 2023 at 1:50 pm

Syrians leave the Jindires town in northern Syria’s Afrin District of the Aleppo following 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes centered in Turkiye’s Kahramanmaras, on February 09, 2023 [Bekir Kasım/Anadolu Agency]

Germany is offering temporary three-month visas to anyone who has been affected by the earthquakes, so they can stay with relatives.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told Bild: “This is emergency aid. We want to allow Turkish or Syrian families in Germany to bring their close relatives from the disaster area to their homes without bureaucracy.”

There are around 924,000 Syrians living in Germany since former Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed them during the height of the refugee crisis in 2015.

READ: Syria: opposition says UN handling of earthquake response was politicised

Almost three million people of Turkish origin live in Germany.

Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium are also working to offer temporary, accelerated visas to Syrians and Turkish earthquake victims so that they can stay with their relatives.

The Swiss secretariat said that over 600 applications have been made from the Swiss Consulate General in Istanbul.

A petition is circulating in the UK calling on the government to follow suit and issue special visas to Turkish earthquake victims who have been made homeless and who have relatives there.

Over 36,000 people are now officially dead after twin earthquakes hit northwest Syria and southern Turkiye a week ago today.

The UN has said the death toll is likely to surpass 56,000 as the hope of finding survivors is slim so long after the earthquakes hit.

Tens of thousands of buildings have been destroyed. Survivors are sheltering in makeshift camps, basketball courts or just out in the open air as they wait for houses.

READ: Aid enters Syria, but ‘it is nowhere near enough’