ANTIOCH — One year after the earthquake that devasted southern Turkey and northwestern Syrian, President of the Federation of Syriac Associations in Turkey (Süryani Dernekler Federasyonu, SÜDEF) Evgil Türker President of the Federation of Syriac Associations in Turkey (Süryani Dernekler Federasyonu, SÜDEF) stated to our newsdesk that SÜDEF inspected the affected areas in Antioch (Antakya) and Hatay, indicating that conditions in the affected areas remain deplorable.
Türker stated that, despite a year passing since the disaster, citizens continue to endure dire conditions, with many homes left unrepaired or demolished due to neglect.
Antakya looks like a city one month rather than one year after a cataclysmic earthquake, and every single person I spoke to without exception is certain the reason is that the government is punishing them for their identity and for not supporting Erdoğan. pic.twitter.com/NGY9gaad9E
— Nick Ashdown (@Nick_Ashdown) February 6, 2024
He criticized the lack of government support, saying that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has only extended support to regions offering political allegiance, leaving many quake-affected areas without assistance. The majority of those affected, including followers of the Syriac Melkite Greek Catholic Church, remain displaced, struggling to survive in makeshift shelters.
In commemoration of the earthquake victims, Türker noted that the Syriac Melkite Patriarchate held a memorial service and Divine Liturgy, featuring speeches by prominent figures, including SÜDEF officials.
Regarding relief efforts, Türker detailed collaborative initiatives between SÜDEF and the Syriac Cross Organization for Relief and Development, which provided essential supplies, medical aid, and erected prefabricated houses for the displaced. Efforts also focused on creating job opportunities for affected Christians, aiming to foster self-reliance independent of government support.
Türker emphasized ongoing efforts to construct 20 additional prefabricated houses for residents of Samandağ and Arsuz, underscoring the need for continued support from the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) community to aid more affected individuals.
As the crisis persists, Türker urged increased donations, acknowledging that the road to recovery may span decades.