22 Malawians caught up in Turkey quake
Survivors in makeshift shelters
By Patience Lunda:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has disclosed that 22 Malawians have been affected by Turkey’s earthquake and the figure is likely to go up as figures are still being compiled.
The ministry’s spokesperson John Kabaghe said most of those affected are university students but there are no injuries recorded so far.
Kabaghe added that the ministry is finding ways of assisting the survivors, who are being kept in makeshift shelters.
“Our embassy in Berlin is making follow ups on the matter so that we should know how we can assist them but, currently, the students are being helped by the universities they learn at,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ministry is yet to receive reports from those affected by the earthquake in Syria through the Malawi Embassy in Egypt.
Commenting on the matter, international relations commentator Maclan Kanyang’wa said some of the affected people may not necessary have documentation as natural disasters sometimes catch people by surprise, hence the need to establish contact with them.
“Malawians move around the world for various reasons and the government needs to make sure that its people are protected in countries faced by natural disasters and, after that, they can consider repatriation should there be need,” he said.
On February 6, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Turkey and Syria and killed more than 2,700 people on the day.
The earthquake occurred in southern Turkey, near the northern border of Syria. This quake was followed approximately nine hours later by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake located around 59 miles (95 kilometers) to the southwest. As of February 9, at least 1,206 aftershocks have been reported.
According to the Crisis Watch: Turkey-Syria Earthquake website, the earthquake was the most devastating to hit earthquake-prone Turkey in more than 20 years and was as strong as one in 1939, the most powerful recorded there.
The initial earthquake was centered near Gaziantep in south-central Turkey, home to thousands of Syrian refugees and humanitarian aid organisations.
Apart from Turkey, Syria is another country that was affected by the earthquake.
Humanitarian organisations have indicated that Syria’s current humanitarian emergency is among the largest humanitarian crises in the world and that the earthquake will only exacerbate the situation and vulnerabilities.
They say one obstacle in assessing the death toll and response efforts in Syria is that the government does not control all the northwest, the area hardest hit by the earthquake.
In northwest Syria, 4.1 million people already depend on humanitarian assistance, the majority of whom are women and children.
In its February 9 2023 Flash Update, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs listed heavy machines for debris removal, cash distribution, tents, isolation sheets and NFIs [non-food items], heating materials, emergency food and bread assistance, water trucking and garbage removals, ambulances and medicines, fuel for hospitals and health centres, rental trucks and vans to transport people, reception centres for IDPs [internally displaced persons] and safe spaces for women and girls among the primary needs for northwest Syria.