Two months have passed since the earthquake in Turkey: "We are trying to survive on our own"
SEDA TASKIN-REMZI BUDANCIR-OSMAN CAKLI
It has been two months since the earthquakes centered in Maras in eastern Turkey. Arti Gercek reporters witnessed the chaos during the first days, the focus on rescuing those trapped under the rubble, as well as the shortcomings in the response, and survival efforts of earthquake victims, and asked them about what has changed, ongoing problems, and their expectations in the intervening period.
“The process continues with solidarity”
Gunaydin, a journalist who is also an earthquake victim living in Antakya, was able to leave the city on the third day of the earthquake and said that the teams arrived in Hatay only on the third day. He has been living in a tent for two months. While some problems persist two months after the earthquake, Gunaydin added that there is still a process progressing with solidarity:
"IBB (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality) provides our water needs and distributes water to the tents. Patnos Municipality is trying to meet our food needs. So, there is still a process progressing with solidarity. Where will this go? This is the question on everyone's mind. We don't know what we will do when Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and Patnos Municipality leave."
"10 thousand Turkish Liras has not been received by some"
Gunaydin, who stated that the distance to reach water was not far, also explained that some earthquake victims still had to walk for about an hour to access water. Gunaydin expressed that there is still no widespread organization on behalf of the government and stated that he did not know who received the 10,000 TL that the government promised to earthquake victims.
Gunaydin said, "I don't know who received 10,000 TL. We don't know if all earthquake victims or only those with damaged houses receive it. Many people who went to the district governorate to receive 10,000 TL returned empty-handed. Two months have passed, but we still have trouble sleeping. Many people are experiencing the same situation. Aftershocks continue or we think there is another earthquake. We have a lot of trouble sleeping."
THERE IS NOTHING CHANGING HERE
In the Nurhak district of Maras, despite months having passed since the earthquake, there are still difficulties in accessing water and food. Omer Bas, who has been looking for a tent for his animals for months, is forced to enter the stable on the ground floor of a heavily damaged building because he cannot access a tent. He says, "Nothing is changing here despite months that have passed since the earthquake. We are trying to survive on our own."
Bas explained his experience as follows:
EVERYONE MAKES PROMISES BUT DOES NOT COME BACK
“Everyone who comes here promises us, but then never comes back. I don't know how many people I have talked to about getting a tent for months. At this point, I don't expect anything from anyone. A container city was supposed to be built in our neighborhood. But the work has not been completed for months. Our only hope now is to take our animals to the pasture with the warming weather.”
WE DON'T FEEL SAFE IN TENTS EITHER
Bas, who said that many of their tents became unusable with the wind, stated that they don't feel safe in the tents. Although they have been told that a container city will be set up in their neighborhood for a long time, Bas said that the work is ongoing, and they don't have faith in it anymore.
"But even our faith in that has run out. Life continues like this for us. People have to break their [Ramadan] fast with just an olive and cheese. Those who could leave have left, and the poor people like us are stuck here," he said.
EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS FORCED TO RETURN TO DAMAGED HOMES
The situation is not much better in the Yaylakonak district, which is connected to Adiyaman, hit by the earthquake. While the debris removal continues in the district, the problem of housing for earthquake victims persists. Mehmet Taskaynatan, who explains that people still live in tents, listed the problems they are facing:
"The debris removal continues in the village. People are still living in tents. There are even those who are forced to return to damaged homes because they cannot stay in tents. These people are facing serious safety risks. In addition, there is a hygiene problem here. Since the infrastructure is damaged, people cannot pay attention to hygiene. Frankly, after the earthquake, everything remains the same. Not much has changed. The suffering continues."
SCRAP IS BEING TAKEN, EXCAVATION IS LEFT ON THE GROUND
Mahmut Akgul, who lost his house in the center of Adiyaman, is one of the earthquake victims. Akgul, who said that his family has been living in a tent for two months, stated that he had to return after taking his father and relatives to Batman today. Akgul, who explained that the debris removal operations continue in the city center, said the following:
"The people who lost their homes are still in tents. Some of them went to neighboring provinces. They are removing the debris, but problems arise from this. They take the scrap metal during the debris removal process and leave the rubble on the ground. What will we do with that rubble? Besides, the city is covered in dust. Asbestos risk is present. The housing problem persists. To be honest, not much has changed in the earthquake zone."
THE POOR ARE STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE UNDER DIFFICULT CONDITIONS
Mehmet Uluca, who is both a victim of the earthquake and a volunteer in Adiyaman, said that the problems continue. Uluca explained that the debris removal operations are still ongoing in the city and listed the issues as follows:
PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO GO TO DAMAGED HOUSES
Earthquake victims are still living in tents. The containers are insufficient, and AFAD, Kizilay, and other NGOs and institutions take over the container cities they have established. It is unknown how they distribute the containers and what the priorities are. People are living in damaged houses or shops that are not suitable for human life due to housing and future concerns. If their houses are categorized as medium or heavily damaged, they appeal to have them categorized as slightly damaged. When their damaged houses are demolished, they will face a housing problem.
THERE ARE PEOPLE UNDER THE RUBBLE
"People are still being rescued from under the rubble. There are migrants who have lost their lives and cannot be reached. The basements are not being searched during the rubble removal. There are migrants who have lost their lives and cannot be reached. In one hotel, the basement was not searched during the rubble removal. Local shopkeepers say that two Uzbeks were staying there, but it was not taken into account. There is a problem with migrants. The relatives of those who apply for missing persons must be present. But they have no relatives. Therefore, searches are not conducted in areas where migrants are known to be located."
VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED
"There is a need for drinking water and volunteers. The first volunteers have been working for two months, but staying for a long time exhausts all volunteers. The pro-government media says 'the state is everywhere', but earthquake victims ask 'where is the state' when volunteers are in the field. If it weren't for volunteers, there would have been more casualties, and people in certain parts of the city would still not have been able to find a place to eat, drink, and sleep."
THE PEOPLE ARE STILL ANXIOUS
"People are still anxious because what the government says and what they do are two different stories. People are victims, yet they do nothing. And whenever they do help, which they only provide for certain places, the help comes from AKP candidate nominees trying to promote themselves through their own friends and acquaintances.”