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Greece launches a national campaign to help Turkey and Syria help the earthquake


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In solidarity with its neighbor Turkey, Greece has launched a nationwide campaign to collect relief materials for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria, Greek media reported on Friday, in addition to the trucks that already set off on Friday from Athens with 40 tons of aid from the Greek Red Sea. pass.

The campaign will be implemented in coordination with the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) and 13 regional federations of municipalities, according to public broadcaster ERT.

The report said citizens were asked to donate essential items, including but not limited to blankets, flashlights, sleeping bags, personal hygiene items, dry foods and baby food.

Fundraisers will take place at town halls in various districts through February 13th.

The report added that many other public institutions, including ministries, prefectures, trade unions and citizens’ groups are already conducting more aid campaigns in several cities of Greece.

At least 19,388 people have died and 77,711 others have been injured since the powerful earthquake struck southern Turkey on Monday, according to the latest official figures.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in Kahramanmaraş province, affected about 13 million people in 10 Turkish provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Şanlıurfa.

In neighboring Syria, the death toll has risen to more than 3,300, and more than 5,200 wounded.

Help from the Hellenic Red Cross is on the way

On the other hand, three trucks belonging to the Hellenic Red Cross left this morning, the Greek capital, Athens, loaded with 40 tons of relief materials such as beds, tents, blankets, kitchen utensils, food, water, medical supplies, and hygiene products.

Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Katsaniotis, who was entrusted with organizing institutions and individuals who wish to send humanitarian aid to Turkey and Syria on the instructions of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said in a statement to the press that the aid to Turkey is full of emotion and that the aid will continue.

Speaking at the Diplomatic Academy in Asuncion, Paraguay, where he is on an official visit, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said, “The catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have shown, through the reactions of the Greek and Turkish communities, that people are much closer than their leadership sometimes thinks.”

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Head of the Hellenic Red Cross Antonis Aveniros stated that the Hellenic Red Cross Foundation has been in contact with the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay) since day one to determine the urgent needs of the earthquake victims.

Aveneros said, “The Greek Red Cross is always with our friends in Turkey. We have great cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent. Not only now, but always. We are in full coordination with the Red Crescent,” he said.

Aveneros explained that the trucks are scheduled to arrive in the earthquake zone after a journey that lasted 3.5 days, noting that she plans to send aid to the earthquake victims in this way with many convoys from now on.

Stressing that these shipments are also a message of friendship and solidarity, Aveneros said, “We will be at their side (earthquake victims) as much as necessary.”

Yorgos Stamatis, Secretary General of Social Solidarity at the Hellenic Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, said: “We are here to support us. We are brothers, we are united in all difficulties, and I hope everything will heal as soon as possible.”

Put politics aside

Emilia Balta’s mother fled Turkey after a war with Greece a century ago, but that hasn’t stopped elderly Greeks from donating clothes to the thousands homeless by the deadly earthquake there.

“People are cold, so we’re doing what we can” to help, said Balta — whose mother survived the Greco-Turkish War of 1922 — as she left sacks of wool and coats in the town hall. Northern suburb of Athens.

Thousands of Greeks have answered calls for help to quake-hit Turkey, rekindling memories of how a spontaneous outpouring of help after a similar disaster in 1999 brought neighbors together when they seemed to be on the brink of war.

Sleeping bags, blankets, milk cartons and medicine boxes are piling up at the Hellenic Red Cross offices in Athens, said organization spokesman Konstantinos Gavrilidis.

Referring to the convoy of trucks that left Athens on Friday, Gavrilidis said: “A nationwide appeal was launched two days ago… The response was immediate and plentiful.”

The Greek government has separately sent 80 tons of medical and first aid kits.

NATO allies Turkey and Greece have a history of rivalry that goes back centuries. But the two countries that lie on seismic fault lines also have a tradition of helping each other in emergency situations caused by an earthquake. Greece was among the first European countries to send rescue workers and humanitarian aid on Monday, just hours after the disaster.

“We must put all our forces at Turkey’s disposal,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday. A day later, he tweeted in Turkish: “Greeks and Turks are fighting side by side to save lives.”

On Wednesday, a second plane carrying firefighters, engineers and doctors left Greece.

“Solidarity is alive in these difficult times,” Simos Roussos, mayor of a northern suburb of Athens, said in a Facebook post while announcing local aid collection areas.

“The public reaction is to be expected,” Fotini Tsiberidou, professor of social anthropology at the University of Macedonia in northern Greece, told AFP. She said Greeks “want to lend their support because they have been touched by the drama, which contrasts with the political rhetoric of division and rivalry.”

Greek TV channels broadcast footage of rescue operations live from the disaster area, reflecting the nation’s fears of the quake. A video showing Greek rescue workers pulling a child from the rubble in Turkey’s quake-stricken Hatay region has been shared tens of thousands of times.

Balta told AFP that her mother did not return to her hometown of Izmir after 1922, and she could not bring herself to do so either.

“It’s so sad, I don’t want to go back,” she said, but vowed to return to the town hall on Monday with more clothes on.

Support from Finland and Latvia is on the way

The Finnish Red Cross has also sent 300,000 euros ($320,530) to help those affected by the Kahramanmaraş earthquake, which is being described as the “disaster of the century”.

In the statement posted on the organization’s website, it said that the aid in question would be shared between Turkey and Syria.

“Basic things are needed right now. Protection from cold weather, clean water, food and emotional support,” said Marko Korhonen, an official of the Finnish Red Cross, which works in both countries.

Korhonen added, “We are ready to increase our aid depending on the support that the Turkish and Syrian Red Crescent needs in the field. In addition to the 300,000 euro support, we are ready to send material aid, relief workers and disaster preparedness units to the region for health and logistics.”

Latvia, meanwhile, which previously announced it would send 70,000 euros to Turkey, also said on Friday that it would provide additional support.

According to the Baltic News Agency BNS, the Latvian State Fire and Rescue Services will prepare an aid package consisting of three heated tents adapted for winter conditions, five lighting sets and 30 metal cable reels for the lighting sets.

The Latvian Emergency Medical Service will provide 5,000 blankets to be sent to Turkey.

The cost of the aid package has been calculated at €200,000.

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