A new report from Turkey has said that the death toll in the earthquake has now risen to 48,448 and that 6,660 of them are believed to be foreign nationals. This number comes from comments in Turkish media reported by Anadolu.
Some “6,660 of the dead were foreign nationals,” Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said at a news conference, according to the report, adding that the statement was made “in quake-hit Malatya province along with Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.”
The earthquake that took place last month affected many provinces in Turkey, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa. The report said that more than 13.5 million people have been affected.
Most foreigners who died in Turkey earthquakes were likely Syrian
The large number of foreigners killed, almost 14% of the victims, points to a disproportionate effect on foreign nationals, particularly Syrians, whom it is believed were most of the foreign victims. The number 6,600 likely means that other missing Syrians will also be added to this number, perhaps as many as 10,000 eventually. The overall number of Syrians killed is not known.
In Syria itself, thousands were killed. Access to medical care is difficult in the war-torn country and there was not adequate assistance to help people out of the rubble.
Meanwhile, in Turkey, there has been a focus on inadequate support for the victims of the earthquake. The country is also facing an election in May, during which the government will want to portray itself as doing all it can to aid victims. But it’s not clear if the government will be able to do enough, or how it will manage voting in the impacted provinces.
Syrian refugees in Turkey are also facing obstacles to travel and where they can reside after the earthquake. Because it affected areas with a large population of Syrian refugees, they will also need housing and solutions for their needs.
This could create an added crisis in Turkey because there is rising racism against Syrians and other refugees, and this kind of attitude may rise further with the upcoming election.