Donors at a European Union-led conference on Monday pledged 7 billion euros ($7.5 bln) to help to rebuild Türkiye after last month’s devastating earthquakes, while Ankara estimated the costs at more than ten times that.
The Feb. 6 earthquakes were the worst natural disaster to strike modern-day Türkiye with more than 56,000 people killed in Türkiye and neighboring Syria. The European Union and member country Sweden on Monday hosted the conference to drum up support.
7 billion euros in total
“The total pledges today amount to 7 billion euros,” said Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
He said the money would “help people whose lives were destroyed in a matter of seconds and minutes” and gives hope “that rebuilding dignity and everyday life will be possible.”
The number includes one billion euros from the EU’s executive European Commission, half of which will be spent via the bloc’s lending arm, the European Investment Bank (EIB), suspending the bank’s nearly total ban on financing for Türkiye in recent years.
Germany will also double its aid for those affected in Türkiye and Syria to 240 million euros, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.
The Commission would spend a further 108 million euros on humanitarian assistance and early recovery in Syria, where the EU does not have diplomatic ties with President Bashar al-Assad over a war that had started there in 2011.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) estimated the “total financial burden of the earthquake disaster” for Türkiye at some $103.6 billion and said that amounted to 9% of the country’s GDP forecast for 2023.
It estimated some 3.3 million people were forced to flee their homes and most were now living in temporary shelters. It added that some 650,000 homes would need to be rebuilt.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressing the Brussels conference via video link, put the cost of the earthquake at $104 billion, saying Türkiye would build 319,000 homes in the first year.
“It is not possible for a single nation to tackle a crisis of this scale on its own,” he said. “We will never forget the solidarity that all our friends … have shown in these difficult days.”
EU officials said the donor conference included some 400 international actors – countries, regional organizations, and non-governmental groups. The allied Syrian and Russian authorities were not invited.
The bloc has sanctions on Damascus in place and said it would only finance humanitarian assistance and early recovery but not full-scale reconstruction for as long as there is no political dialogue between Assad and his adversaries.
The UNDP estimated recovery costs in Syria at $14.8 billion, saying the earthquake aggravated the already dire situation caused by the long war.
“Today, nine in 10 people in Syria live below the poverty line,” said UNDP’s Achim Steiner.