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Arab popular sympathy, solidarity with Turkiye is no surprise: Yemen Nobel laureate

February 16, 2023 at 2:10 pm

Palestinian search and rescue team members try to warm up around fire as search and rescue efforts continue [Photojournalist:Muhittin Sandıkçı Publisher:Mert Türker]

Yemeni activist and Nobel laureate, Tawakkol Karman, deemed Arab widespread solidarity and sympathy with Turkiye amid the devastating earthquake disaster a “no surprise”.

In an interview with Anadolu, Karman said, “In general, there is great popular sympathy and solidarity shown by the Arab countries and this is not surprising because what unites the Arabs and the Turks is more than what separates them.”

At least 36,187 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Turkiye on 6 February says the disaster agency on Thursday.

The 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude tremors last week were centred in Kahramanmaras and struck nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa. More than 13 million people have been affected by the devastating quakes.

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Humanitarian response

The Yemeni activist stated that “the Tawakkol Karman Foundation is providing relief to the afflicted as part of local and international humanitarian efforts that seek to mitigate the damages of the disaster and help those who lost their homes and loved ones.”

According to Karman, the Foundation seeks to “build 50 housing units which, upon completion, will be handed over to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD).”

It also seeks to “deliver donations and mobilise resources and efforts to meet the need, similar to other civil society organisations and humanitarian work.”

The assistance includes “blankets, mattresses, winter clothes, foodstuffs, and some sanitary materials and personal hygiene tools.”

Karman explained that “the campaign, which is conducted in coordination with the Turkish authorities, will focus on Reyhanli in Hatay Governorate, to which many of the displaced have sought refuge, in addition to other regions in southern Turkiye.”

Karman also stated that “financial donation to support institutions operating in northern Syria is also included in the campaign’s agenda”.

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Yemeni solidarity

Karman emphasised that “the Yemeni people have fraternal affection towards the Syrian and Turkish peoples”.

“The Yemenis in Turkiye did what any responsible person should do. They contributed with financial and blood donations,” she added.

“Arab solidarity, to a large extent, was very good, but we should not forget that there is a general weakness in the equipment and preparations for confronting natural disasters,” Karman added.

She stressed that “the popular sympathy and great solidarity shown by the Arab countries is not surprising, as what unites Arabs and Turks is more than what separates them.”

Since the earthquake, Arab activists have expressed on social media their grief and solidarity with the afflicted in both Turkiye and Syria.

Activists in Tunisia, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Somalia interacted with the earthquake disaster, expressing solidarity with the two peoples, where they volunteered to collect donations and deliver them to the afflicted.

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Good management

The Yemeni activist said, “Let us admit that the catastrophe is very big, and yet it seems that the reaction of the Turkish government and agencies is good.”

“The rescue, evacuation and shelter operations, as well as the provision of the necessary supplies for those in need, were done fast,” she added.

“The government’s pledges to restore what was destroyed and to provide assistance to those affected indicate that it is committed to alleviating the suffering of the affected areas,” according to Karman.

On Saturday, the Turkish President pledged to rebuild the quake-hit region as part of a year-long plan.

Karman criticised the international response and the efforts of the international community, saying, “Through the news that is being reported, there is an international response, but I do not imagine that it was as big as the disaster.”

She explained that “there should be more attention by the international community towards natural disasters around the world.”

Karman stressed that “it is possible to work hard to find certain fixed and flexible means that help in mitigating the damages resulting from natural disasters.”

The Yemeni activist concluded by saying, “This is one of the problems that should be addressed by the world, not only by the affected countries.”

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.