The Turkish president is facing criticism over the government poor response to the earthquake disaster


Criticism of Türkiye over its response to the earthquake disaster intensified on Wednesday, with the political opposition and people in the disaster area accusing the government of delays and insufficiency in relief efforts.

Anger boiled over as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will face a hard-fought election after three months, visited the stricken region for the first time and admitted there were some problems in the initial response.

The earthquake on Monday that killed more than 11,000 people across southern Türkiye and northwest Syria.

The earthquake destroyed infrastructure and flattened thousands of buildings, negatively affecting the lives of millions and leaving many homeless in the bitter cold.

From the outset, the Turks complained of a lack of equipment and support as they waited desperately by the wreckage, lacking the expertise or tools to rescue the stranded, sometimes while they heard cries for help.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition party, said earlier this week that the disaster is a time for unity, not criticism, but on Wednesday Kilicdaroglu accused the government of failing to cooperate with local authorities and weakening NGOs that would help.

“I refuse to view what is happening as taking precedence over politics and alliance with the ruling party… This collapse is precisely the result of a systematic policy of exploitation,” Kilicdaroglu said.

“If anyone is responsible for this operation, it is Erdogan… It’s the ruling party that hasn’t prepared the country for an earthquake in 20 years”.

Rescue workers struggled to reach some of the hardest-hit areas, hampered by destroyed roads, bad weather, lack of resources and heavy equipment, while some areas were left without fuel or electricity.

Nasuh Mahruqi, founder of a search and rescue group that was active in response to the 1999 earthquake that killed 17,000 people, said the army didn’t act quickly enough because Erdogan’s government had overruled a protocol that enabled it to respond without direction.

“When this was revoked, their duties and responsibilities in fighting disasters were taken away from them,” he told Reuters.

He added, in the first moments after the 1999 earthquake, the Turkish Armed Forces began working and were on the site with people within hours, in a comparison that reveals the contrast of this with the current situation, where the army had to wait for directions.

“Now, the responsibility seems to be on the shoulders of the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), but it isn’t ready to face a crisis of this magnitude,” Mahrouqi added.

Share it...

Leave a Reply