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New Zealander loses 40 of his family members to the Turkey earthquakes



Pearl of the Islands aid campaign (Photo Supplied)

Dr Malini Yugendran

Auckland, February 16, 2023

Ali Yildiz, a member of the Turkish community in New Zealand, has lost over 40 family members to the earthquakes in Turkey. “40 people of mine and my wife’s relatives have died in these earthquakes. About 20 of them are children. My cousin who is 35, his wife and two children have passed away. Another cousin and her three children have died,” he said. “Also, many of our neighbours are under the wreckage. There is no hope left for their lives.”

On February 6, 2023, two devastating earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.8 and 7.6 struck the Turkey-Syria border. The death toll now stands at 41,000 and millions of survivors are in need of aid.

Mr Yildiz described how badly the earthquakes have affected his community, “About 15 million people are affected in ten big cities of Türkiye. and 105,000 people are injured. Still, thousands of people are under the rubble.”

He added, “We feel so helpless. They are in the hardest of situations. In Malatya, there was a snowstorm during the earthquakes and people were under collapsed buildings waiting to be rescued at -10 degrees. We could not do anything for them except pray.”

Ali Yildiz’s uncle’s family who perished in the earthquake. (Photo Supplied)

UN Appeal and an Aid Campaign in New Zealand

The most affected communities are on the Turkey-Syria border, and they are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Shortage of resources and difficulty accessing remote areas have made the situation worse.

In light of the urgent need for assistance, the United Nations (UN) has appealed for US$397 million in aid to assist the survivors.

The Pearl of the Islands Foundation Inc, a community organisation in New Zealand, has launched an aid campaign to meet the urgent needs of the earthquake victims in Turkey. The organisation is urging people to donate to its campaign to provide essential supplies such as food, water, and shelter to the affected communities.

Mr Yildiz said, “These earthquakes affected so many so deeply. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless in the harsh winter conditions. Thousands have died in the wreckage. Many more are frozen to death. We do not know what to do. I do not think they will recover from this devastation for years to come since they have lost their home, family, and work.”

Collapsed buildings after the earthquake (Photo RNZ)

“Please show these people your compassion and kindness. Be a beacon of hope for them as these people have endured a total loss in addition to the loss of lives of their loved ones,” he concluded.

New Zealanders are being called upon to donate generously to support the earthquake victims in their time of need. Those who wish to donate can do so to the account number: 02-0184-0128059-001, with the reference: Name Surname Turkey Earthquake (See the poster for details and barcode).

According to the 2018 New Zealand Census, there were 3,285 people who identified as being of Turkish ethnicity living in New Zealand. The Turkish community in New Zealand is diverse and includes people who have migrated from Turkey as well as those who were born in New Zealand to Turkish parents.

Ali Yildiz, lost 40 of his family members to the earthquakes. (Photo supplied)

Pearl of the Islands Foundation

The Pearl of the Islands Foundation (PIF) is a non-profit organisation in New Zealand that fosters understanding and acceptance between people of diverse communities through intercultural events and meaningful engagement.

PIF envisions a harmonious and socially cohesive New Zealand and is named after the country’s beauty.

The organisation promotes diversity and social cohesion and facilitates dialogue on social issues. PIF is a registered charitable entity with a staff, managing committee, and the advisory board overseeing its operations.

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

 

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