“It is an enormous solidarity which is manifested”, initiatives are multiplying in Alsace to help the victims

In order to quickly come to the aid of the victims of the great earthquake that occurred in Turkey on Monday February 6, 2023, municipalities, associations and individuals are mobilizing from north to south of Alsace.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which occurred in Kahramanmaras in southern Turkey, on the night of January 5 to 6, 2023, is among the strongest recorded since the use of the Richter scale in 1935. The force tremors have already killed more than 5,000 people and injured thousands. Like the whole world, Alsace is mobilizing and organizing food and medical aid.

From north to south of Alsace, municipalities, Turkish, Franco-Turkish, Syrian, Franco-Syrian associations, as well as businesses, restaurants and individuals, organize clothing, medical, food and financial collections for of Turkey and Syria.

These two countries are shaken by the tragedy resulting from the earthquake which occurred on the night of Sunday to Monday, while the population was sleeping. Twenty-three million people are “potentially exposed” to the consequences of this earthquake, warned the World Health Organization.

In the Obernai, Barr and Molsheim sector, the Turkish community represents 12 to 13% of the population. “It is an enormous solidarity that has been manifested since yesterday” says Yetis Somuncu, president of the Obernai Turkish cultural association ACT.

We collect clothes, food, heaters, medicines, but also money. The Turkish consulate will supervise the money transfers, but also the goods transported, because authorizations are needed to access the country and the right places. A strong mobilization of all the inhabitants, but also nurses, pharmacists who have already brought or offered medicines. “We have even already received the load of a truck from Sélestat and another from Saint-Dié in the Vosges.” The collection will be sent on site at the end of the week.

“This mobilization makes our hearts very warm! We thank all the inhabitants of the Obernai sector, but also more broadly the people and the French government.”

Yetis Somuncu, Pdt Turkish Cultural Association of Obernai

In Valff, a couple of restaurateurs launched a clothing drive. “We urgently need blankets, fleeces, jackets, gloves, socks… anything that can keep you warm,” but also of “wet wipes and baby diapers” did they write on their Facebook page.

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“It could also happen to us, and there we would also need to be helped” explains the restorer, Soner Saraydemir. “Everyone has to do their part.” Although originally from northern Turkey, he and his wife have friends in the disaster-stricken towns.

And since Monday 6 in the evening, donations have been pouring in, and are deposited, as requested, in the courtyard of the ValVa restaurant, located at 141 main street. “People are united, it’s magnificent” rejoices Soner Saraydemir. A friend lends him a van, which he hopes to be able to fill to the brim, in order to be able to transport his load on Wednesday February 8 at 10 p.m. to Weil am Rhein (Germany), from where a truck will leave for Turkey, “to another destination than the Obernai collection.”

In Hoerdt, another collection is organized by the manager of a road transport company. “It could have been us“confided Gökhan Selik to our colleagues from France 2. He has no news from part of his family who lives there. Around him, in a hangar of his company in Hoerdt, donations accumulate, blankets , clothing, diapers for children, medical equipment…

“If we can do a minimum to help them, it is with great pleasure”

Three trucks filled with the road transport company leave this Tuesday afternoon for Turkey.

In Bischwiller, more than 200 women from the Franco-Turkish association of Bischwiller gathered around a charity breakfast. “Usually, when we come, the money we give is for the mosque” explains a regular participant. But this time, the donations will go to the victims of the earthquake. “We have to help them, we could have been in their place. We are all brothers and sisters” adds the young woman.

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Even if most of the participants are not from the ten disaster-stricken towns, all feel concerned. “It’s really sad for everyone” says one of them. “Yesterday, we had a very hard day. I am a mother of four children, and when you see a child come out (of the rubble) who says ” save my mum ” or ‘ my brother is in it’, it’s hard , very difficult.”

The young woman who runs the cash register does the accounts. “On a normal morning, we make about a thousand euros” she specifies. “But there, we easily collected 3 or 4,000 euros.” Which does not surprise Meriem, one of the organizers: “The Turkish community is generous, responsive” she recalls. “Next Friday, when we meet at the mosque for prayer, there will still be a collection.”

She is also delighted that in Bischwiller, where a third of the population is Turkish, many non-Turks also feel concerned. “A lot of people have called us, school principals, associations, to ask how to help Turkey. It’s nice to see that everyone is trying in their own way to find solutions. It warms the heart.” Even if she knows well that all this financial or material support will be only a drop of water in the face of the scale of the disaster.. “We feel helpless” she acknowledges. “We can’t do anything about it. Even if we help them financially, it’s not enough.”

In Wissembourg, it is the Turkish Cultural Center of the city which organizes a collection to help the victims of the earthquake. It collects and ships food and clothing donations. Temperatures drop below zero at this time of year, and for people who find themselves without a roof or shelter, things like warm clothes, gloves, blankets, as well as food and hygiene.

The population is also mobilizing for Syria, unfortunately already devastated by the war. This Wednesday, Alsatian firefighters from the NGO (non-governmental organization) Humanitarian and expert firefighters will also leave to join the rescuers at the scene of the tragedy.

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