The European Union (EU) has committed over €4 million ($4.28 million) in funding to the Syrian Civil Defence, or White Helmets, in a bid to boost efforts to relieve communities in northern Syria following the devastating earthquakes that hit the area and neighbouring Turkiye back in February.
During a visit to the south-eastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, Dan Stoenescu, the EU’s Chargé d’affaires ad interim to Syria, announced the new funding programme, stating that the rescue workers “have developed a unique experience in civil defence in Syria and established solid coordination mechanisms and community trust.”
Stoenescu added that the “project aims primarily to reduce the destructive impact of the recent earthquake. It will empower communities to recover, prepare for future challenges, and, most importantly, to foster a sense of peace and security. The European Union continues to stand in solidarity with the Syrian people.”
According to the EU, one of the key aims of the funding is to “enhance community resilience through rubble management and infrastructural improvements, including water and sanitation networks in camps and local communities.” It will also reportedly “offer critical support to women by providing access to physiotherapy and psychosocial services, thereby alleviating the long-term psychological and physical impacts of the earthquake.”
The bloc also acknowledged that the “earthquakes exacerbated pre-existing challenges in the region which has already suffered from more than a decade of armed conflict and socio-economic instability.”