Chicago Sun-Times

Turkey, Syria need our helping hand to recover from catastroph­e


Nearly 12,000 lives have been lost so far as a result of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated southeaste­rn Turkey and northweste­rn Syria earlier this week.

Thousands of others have been injured, left scrambling to find shelter and relief from the frigid temperatur­es that have enveloped the region. The news seems to become more grim with each passing day, as rescue workers desperatel­y comb through the rubble searching for survivors.

Recovering from such a cruel natural disaster will be a challenge. Damage to roads and other infrastruc­ture, including the sole runway at Turkey’s Hatay Airport, has hampered humanitari­an efforts.

And in Syria, the ongoing civil war adds yet another hurdle to providing help, with casualties in both government-controlled and rebel-held areas of the Middle Eastern country. Many Syrians abroad worry that the red tape, politics and sanctions that have delayed aid in the past may worsen — at the worst of times.

The internatio­nal community must stay steadfast in helping Turkish and Syrian citizens, and insist that world leaders do everything possible to facilitate that support.

Here in Chicago, local organizati­ons, including the Turkish consulate and the midwest chapter of the Syrian American Medical Society, have started gathering donations and supplies. We urge those who have the financial means to give to these and other humanitari­an efforts.

Even a kind thought can go a long way to comfort those who lost a loved one or have relatives coping with the tragedy. Those hoping to express their sympathy can do so by standing alongside members of the Mount Prospect-based Turkish American Society of Chicago as it hosts a candleligh­t vigil Thursday evening.

There will be many more opportunit­ies in the weeks to come for us to step up for Turkey and Syria, where so many lost everything in seconds. Both countries are now on the long road to recovery — and the world cannot turn its back, now or in the months to come.

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