New Haven mosque leaders call for support for Turkey quake victims
NEW HAVEN — U.S Sen. Richard Blumenthal stood in solidarity with leaders of a local Turkish mosque on Friday who called for Americans to unite and continue supporting those whose lives were upended by recent the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
The Diyanet Mosque of New Haven has been at the heart of the relief effort following the deadly earthquake that demolished wide swaths of Turkey and Syria early Monday. Through generous donations, the mosque has been filling its threestory building with clothing and other supplies to ship to earthquake victims struggling to survive in subzero temperatures and without adequate food or shelter.
Mosque leaders led Blumenthal on a tour around the facility on Friday, observing the accumulated relief set to Turks in need.
“What has so impressed me about this community is the rallying together, the outpouring of support that you can see with people brining food and clothing to this wonderful place of faith and dedication,” Blumenthal said after finishing his tour.
One Turkish woman outside the mosque who declined to give her name, said she had “lost six pounds” from the stress of watching the horrific
scenes unfold from afar. “We are here but our heart is there,” she said.
The woman’s daughter, who identified herself as Sultan, said she lost a friend in the earthquake who had been stuck under the rubble for four days before his body was eventually discovered.
“I wish we could all go right now to help out our community,” Sultan said. “All we can do right now is collect donations and supplies.”
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake affected about 400 square miles in Turkey’s southern and central regions — the distance from New Haven to
Virginia, Connecticut resident and mosque secretary Musu Ugurlu told a crowd of people gathered outside the mosque.
The quake’s staggering death toll climbed to more than 22,000 by Friday afternoon, and Blumenthal said he expects that number to continue to climb. According to Ugurlu, the earthquake — felt in four different countries — impacted about 14 million Turks, or about one in six people living in that country.
The destruction has also toppled more than 7,000 buildings, Ugurlu said, trapping scores of survivors under the rubble,
with some still waiting to be pulled from layers of debris. The videos and images of the earthquake’s aftermath being shown on television “doesn’t grasp how big” the disaster is, he added.
An overwhelming amount of aid that has already been provided to the affected areas in Turkey. But with such an urgent level of need in both countries, Ugurlu called on Americans to keep contributing.
“What makes us the United States is we come together in a time of need and we help each other,” Ugulru said. “Just like we did in Ukraine with the war ... now this is our time to help Turkey and Syria. Let’s show the world what makes us great.”
Blumenthal said he would “work and fight for any and all supplies ... that are needed now in this moment of devastating disaster.” The senator said he had pressed agencies at both the state and federal levels, in addition to the White House, to provide any required assistance for earthquake victims. He also encouraged fellow Connecticut residents to donate to local organizations that are providing relief.
“This humanitarian crisis must be met by all humanity,” Blumenthal said. “Turkey is a NATO ally. Syria is far from an ally, but this humanitarian crisis calls on the nation’s and the world’s conscience.”
The United States Agency for International Development has deployed a team of 115 rescue workers on the ground in Turkey, and $85 million has already been committed to relief efforts in that area, but much more will be needed, according to the senator.
“We have it in our hearts. We have it in our bank accounts, and we can do more,” he said.
Those interested in donating can send money to the Diyanet Mosque’s Zelle account, email@example.com, or to its Venmo account @diyanetmosque.