SECRETARY BLINKEN: Hello, everyone. Hope I’m not too hard to hear – lost my voice a little bit. But first and foremost, we are here to stand with the people of Türkiye and Syria in the wake of this devastating earthquake. I just had a chance to fly over (inaudible) to see some of the devastation, and it’s really hard to put into words. You see buildings still standing and then buildings collapsed – roofs destroyed, and right next to it something that’s still standing. But it gives you some sense of the scale of this. We’ve had tens of thousands of deaths, tens of millions of people affected by this earthquake. And of course, we still don’t know the full extent of it.
Immediately, when the – after the earthquake hit, the United States, other countries jumped in. We had search and rescue teams here within a day – about 200 people, canines, other experts in trying to do search and rescue. We’ve had about $85 million worth of assistance poured in immediately for housing and water and food and medicine and clothing, all that in the immediate days following the earthquake. Today, I can announce that we will be bringing another $100 million dollars to assist those who are so desperately in need. We’ve drawn that from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Fund, as well as from a humanitarian assistance fund that State Department and USAID have, and that will be moving soon.
At the same time, we are working in very close collaboration with our Turkish colleagues, both to understand all of the needs and to find ways to deliver on them. This could not be done without the extraordinary work and collaboration of so many parts of the U.S. Government, but starting with the United States military, which, as always, has jumped in a remarkable way. Our colleagues have flown something like 150 sorties. They’ve gotten helicopters out over hard-to-reach areas – 24 million pounds of assistance is coming through this place, and as you can see, it’s moving right on to the trucks behind me and it will move in to people who need it.
But also, USAID as always, responding so quickly and so effectively. The State Department, our mission here in Türkiye – all of them coming together in collaboration with our Turkish partners to try to help people. This is going to be a long-term effort. The search and rescue, unfortunately, is coming to an end. The recovery operation is on, and then there’ll be a massive rebuilding effort. When you see the extent of the damage that’s – the number of buildings, the number of apartments, the number of homes that have been destroyed, it’s going to take a massive effort to rebuild. But we’re committed to supporting Türkiye in that effort. Many countries around the world are doing the same. There’s tremendous solidarity and a tremendous determination to see this through.
The most important thing right now is to get assistance to people who need it, to get them through the winter, and to get them back on their feet. But simply put, the United States is here, we stand strongly with the people of Türkiye and the people of Syria through our NGO implementing partners, and we’ll stick with it until we all get the job done.
MR PATEL: Leon, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, Mr. Secretary, you mentioned the long-term recovery, of course, because the search and rescue is coming to an end, sadly. The secretary-general of the UN requested $1 billion in funding for long-term assistance also. What will the United States do more – what more can you do on that front? And secondly, if I may, since you arrived today in Türkiye and tomorrow you have meetings with Turkish authorities, what are your expectations for those meetings and your meeting with the President Erdogan?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thanks, Leon. Yeah, so the UN has put out a very important and urgent appeal, as you said, for a billion dollars. As of now the United States has contributed $185 million in assistance, but we will look to see what, if anything more, we can do. Other countries are stepping up and stepping in, but it is very urgent that this appeal get funded, and we’ll certainly encourage others to do that even as we look at what additional resources we may be able to provide. But as I said, just today we’re announcing an additional $100 million in this effort.
More broadly – and I’ll have an opportunity to speak to this tomorrow and the day after – I expect that the conversations here will focus a lot on the work that we’re doing together to recover from the earthquake. And I look forward to learning as much as I can from our Turkish partners about what the needs are going forward, how we can best help, how we can best rally resources in support of people here.
MR PATEL: Michel.