Inaction after tremors leads to unrest

Editorial Board

On Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, Turkey’s Gaziantep province, along with regions of northern Syria, was struck by a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake. As the death toll continues to rise, with the latest estimate being over 28,000 as reported by the BBC, criticism of Turkey’s government and its response to the disaster has also become more prominent. The total destruction caused by this devastating earthquake has made recovery efforts extremely difficult, with entire blocks of apartments and commercial buildings being reduced to rubble; however, this is not the first time destruction of this magnitude has struck Turkey. Their government has taken steps that should have ensured a swift and coordinated response to the disaster, yet they have presented quite the opposite. 

In 1999, an earthquake of a similar magnitude struck Turkey causing traumatic levels of death and destruction in the affected regions. According to an article from NPR, following the devastating earthquake, the Turkish government levied a new “earthquake tax” to store excess funds to ease financial tensions that come with massive natural disaster recovery efforts should the nation ever endure a similar tragedy. Yet, when the time came for these funds to be utilized, the government’s response was still less than ideal. Instead, these taxes were used to fund state-sponsored highway construction projects managed by “associates of [President] Erdogan and his coalition government.” This has become yet another cautionary tale of government mismanagement, and the citizens of Turkey are understandably upset. In an attempt to offer their citizens some semblance of restitution, Turkish government officials began detaining “dozens of contractors they blamed for some of the building collapses in Monday’s devastating earthquake, as anger swelled over the government’s slow rescue effort,” according to the New York Times.

As Americans, it is easy to detach ourselves from the death, destruction and pain that the citizens of Turkey are enduring following this disaster; however, we must ensure that this level of government mismanagement does not reach our shores. In an age where natural disasters are becoming increasingly common, we must be able to look towards our government for strength and stability in times of crisis. It is also equally important that we come together as an international community to assist Turkey with relief efforts in their time of need. 

You can find an extensive list of earthquake relief funds that will help those affected in Turkey and Syria at