The February 6 earthquakes that struck southeastern Türkiye and northern Syria have devastated millions of people. Within hours of the first quake, the United States, at the direction of President Biden, quickly mobilized federal agencies and partners to urgently provide life-saving assistance in close coordination with our NATO Ally Türkiye and partner organizations in Syria.
The Secretary announced today that President Biden intends to authorize $50 million in Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Funds (ERMA) in response to the unprecedented and devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. In addition, the United States is providing $50 million in humanitarian assistance through the State Department and USAID. This brings total U.S. humanitarian assistance to support the earthquake response in Türkiye and Syria to $185 million to date.
The United States also welcomes the February 16 UN Flash Appeal for earthquake-related assistance in Türkiye and the February 14 UN Flash Appeal for earthquake-related assistance in Syria. USAID’s Disaster Assistance and Response Team, which includes experienced emergency managers, construction riggers, hazardous materials technicians, licensed engineers and emergency medicine physicians, logisticians, paramedics, planners, search-and-rescue specialists, and search-and-rescue dogs with handlers, is assisting in southern Türkiye.
Our most highly trained Urban Search and Rescue Teams, with more than 200 members and 170,000 pounds of specialized equipment, conducted operations in support of Turkish rescue efforts in Adiyaman, one of the hardest hit areas. In Syria, the White Helmets, our local partners, have rescued more than 2,900 survivors from the rubble, and U.S.-supported Syrian medics have been treating survivors in Idlib, Aleppo, and other affected areas.
U.S. military helicopters are conducting airlift operations from Incirlik Airbase, transporting rescue personnel to sites where they are needed most. Additionally, the U.S. Navy has repositioned naval vessels to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to provide logistics, medical, and rotary air lift support as necessary to support the needs identified by the Turkish government. U.S. military aircraft have also airlifted approximately 18 metric tons of critical relief supplies from Adana’s Incirlik airfield to local Turkish government authorities for distribution to earthquake-affected populations.
The State Department and USAID are working through UN agencies and NGOs to provide emergency assistance in Türkiye and Syria, including hot meals, water, medical care and supplies; non-food items such as blankets, clothes, and hygiene kits, temporary shelter, and structural engineers; and essential mental health and psychosocial support – especially to affected children and to other vulnerable individuals.
Additionally, U.S. NGOs are providing valuable assistance, and the U.S. private sector has already donated more than $66 million to support the relief and recovery efforts.
U.S. officials have remained in regular coordination with Turkish counterparts and UN leadership on how we can best support their efforts. This includes calls between President Biden and President Erdogan, Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu and UN Secretary General Guterres, and Secretary Austin and Defense Minister Akar to relay our offers of assistance and discuss how the United States can continue to assist during this crisis.
The United States is committed to expanding humanitarian access to all affected areas of Syria. In that regard, we are grateful to the Government of Türkiye for facilitating the UN’s renewed access to the Bab al-Salama crossing so aid can flow into northwest Syria, and we are supporting efforts at the UN to sustainably keep open additional crossing points for UN assistance between Türkiye and Syria.
To underscore that U.S. sanctions will not prevent or inhibit providing humanitarian assistance in Syria, the Department of the Treasury issued a broad General License to provide additional authorizations for disaster relief assistance to the Syrian people.
The United States is proud to join the global effort to help Türkiye, a valued and longstanding friend, partner, and NATO Ally, just as Türkiye has so often contributed its own humanitarian rescue experts to so many other countries in the past. In both Türkiye and Syria, the United States will remain committed to doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to provide necessary assistance to those affected by these earthquakes. The United States will continue to support the people of Türkiye and Syria, and we welcome and encourage support from our international partners in this time of great need.