New Zealand is contributing $1.5 million to assist in the humanitarian response to a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, which has claimed thousands of lives.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the financial assistance this afternoon and indicated more could be provided if necessary.
“Aotearoa New Zealand is deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by these earthquakes. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones affected,” Mahuta said.
“We are making an initial contribution of $1.5 million to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) responses in Turkiye [Turkey] and Syria to help meet humanitarian needs.
“Officials will continue to monitor the humanitarian needs and assess options for further support.”
The $1.5m, of which two-thirds would support Turkey’s response and one-third is for Syria’s, would support teams from the Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent to deliver essential relief items such as food supplies, tents and blankets, medical assistance and psychological support.
A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swathes of Turkey and neighbouring Syria on Monday, killing more than 3400 people and injuring thousands more as it toppled hundreds of buildings and trapped residents under mounds of rubble.
Authorities feared the death toll would keep climbing as rescuers searched through tangles of metal and concrete for survivors in a region beset by Syria’s 12-year civil war and a refugee crisis.
This morning, 29 New Zealanders were registered on SafeTravel as being in Turkey.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said all Kiwis in Turkey are urged to follow the advice of local authorities and register their details on the SafeTravel website.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, speaking at a press conference in Canberra alongside Australian PM Anthony Albanese, expressed his condolences to those affected by the earthquake and referenced the support his Government would provide.
“We know a little bit about earthquakes in New Zealand so our hearts are with them,” he said.
Albanese also spoke of the earthquake and confirmed Australia would contribute $10m in humanitarian support.