German ministers visit Turkey after devastating earthquakes

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser traveled to southern Turkey on Tuesday to visit areas hit by devastating earthquakes two weeks ago.

What did the German ministers say on the trip?
Faeser reiterated Germany’s “deeply felt solidarity” with the victims.

“The survivors, who have lost everything, need winter-proof shelters quickly,” the interior minister said before departing for Turkey.

After visiting a tent city near the southeastern settlement of Kahramanmaras, located near the epicenter of the quake, Faeser said it “just broke her heart.”

Baerbock said that the two ministers made the visit in order to “make it clear to the people that our sympathy is not limited to words and will not diminish even if the catastrophe and its aftermath are pushed away by other headlines in the news.”

Baerbock said she could “hardly put into words” how she felt as she surveyed the devastation in southern Turkey.

The death toll from the earthquakes is now 42,310 in Turkey and 3,688 in Syria, according to authorities.

Last night, Turkey and Syria were hit by another earthquake, which killed 6 and injured hundreds. On Tuesday, Turkey’s disaster management agency said it was sending 6,000 extra tents to the Hatay region to provide shelter following the recent quake.

Baerbock, Faeser pledge millions in financial support
The two ministers pledged an additional €50 million ($53.3 million) in financial support for the Turkey-Syria border region.

Including this latest contribution, Germany will have provided a total of €108 million for the victims of the quakes.

Turkey is set to receive €33 million in the latest package from Berlin, and Syria will receive the remaining €17 million.

The German army has delivered more than 340 tons of aid to Turkey on 20 flights.

Berlin has also offered three-month visas for earthquake victims to enable them to stay temporarily with close relatives in Germany, which is home to a large Turkish diaspora. According to the ministers, Germany has granted a total of 96 fast-track Schengen visas so far to Turkish citizens.

Critics of the policy have noted that a valid passport and biometric photo are required to apply for the visa, which they argue may be difficult to obtain for earthquake survivors who have seen their homes destroyed.

Source: DW