Minister of Interior Affairs Süleyman Soylu stated that 2020 was an intense year in terms of disasters and disaster urgent aid allocation was increased by 10 percent when compared to previous years adding that, “We will talk about disasters like a crazy. We have to explain and mention disasters to everyone. We must think like any disaster can happen any minute. Or else, like my mother used to say, ‘whoops, we can’t afford this.’ We have to reach everyone by the end of this year".
Minister Soylu also said that they aim at completing disaster risk plans of all cities of the country by the end of 2021 as a part of Turkey’s Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Plan (İRAP).
Underlining that completing these activities will help the country to reduce harm that occurred due to disasters to a minimum, Soylu stressed that they have established a council with the participation of the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, nongovernmental organizations and academicians in order to implement plans and activities as well as make assessment about disaster management.
Soylu emphasized that they have to raise awareness about this issue among the public adding that people should assume responsibility during earthquakes, they have to keep calm, and switch off power lines and rush to assembly areas.
Citing the traffic jam experienced in the aftermath of İzmir Earthquake on October 30, Minister Soylu said, “That traffic jam lasted for 3-3.5 hours. Let me remind you that the epicenter of the earthquake was not İzmir, it was Samos. Let’s image the earthquake was in İzmir and it was larger. May Allah forbid, such a traffic jam would claim the lives of hundreds of people. What we must do was simple, do not use cars during such disasters.”
New search and rescue accreditations
Soylu pointed out that Gendarme Commando Special Forces Command and IHH teams are accredited for urban mild level urban search and rescue activities while the Search and Rescue Association (AKUT) teams are accredited as medium level team adding that his Ministry founded the Police Search and Rescue (PAK) unit made up of well-trained 800 police officers.
“We are on the right path but we must hurry”
Noting that 10 thousand search and rescue workers worked in harmony under their coordination in the aftermath of earthquake and tsunami incidents in İzmir, Soylu stated that all people in the country appraised the services of the state.
"2020 was an intense year in terms of disasters. The total number of disasters that took place in 2019 was 23 thousand and 482 and this figure increased by 43 percent and reached 33 thousand and 821 in 2020. Urgent aid allocation in 2019 was 386.5 million liras, this figure was set as 1 billion and 246 million liras for 2020 but we had to allocate additional 2.5 billion liras until the end of the year. In other words, urgent aid allocation was increased by 10 percent when compared to the previous year.
“What we had experienced in the aftermath of disasters and İzmir earthquake revealed that we are in the right path but we do not have time to walk, we must hurry. This is not a struggle of a single agency or institution. Disaster link of security chain is not the weakest link. We have a strong capacity but there are still lots of things we must do. So, we must fight with all parts of the society. There are things we must all do,” said Minister Soylu.
"Whoops, we can’t afford this!”
Pointing out that they have declared 2021 as the “Year of Disaster Training”, Minister Soylu said, “We will talk about disasters like a crazy. We have to explain and mention disasters to everyone. We must think like any disaster can happen any minute. Or else, like my mother used to say, ‘whoops, we can’t afford this.’ We have to reach everyone by the end of this year. Even if we cannot bring back people from death but we can save lives.”