B.C.-based Turkish refugees say Turkey government ‘failed’ rescue efforts

B.C.-based Turkish refugees say Turkey government 'failed' rescue efforts
AP Photo/Hussein Malla
Women from Turkey check their destroyed building, in Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. With the hope of finding survivors fading, stretched rescue teams in Turkey and Syria searched Wednesday for signs of life in the rubble of thousands of buildings toppled by a catastrophic earthquake.

Turkish residents and refugees on Vancouver Island are hoping Canadians donate to non-Turkish government organizations because they say so far, the government has mishandled its response to Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake and people are suffering.

“The Turkish government failed,” Cahit Cok, a political refugee from Turkey told CHEK News. “There are not enough rescue teams or tools or food or water. It’s almost three days and they’re still stuck under the debris.”

Cahit and his wife Gulsen Cok escaped Turkey in 2016 after the Turkish government labelled them as terrorists as a result of questioning the government.

“My family living in a village, and the whole village collapsed,” said Cahit.

Cahit’s family survived, but the need is staggering.

The damage stretches across more than 300 kilometres, across 10 cities in Turkey, and down to the war-torn areas of Syria.

Many say the Turkish government’s response has been too slow.

“It’s been more than 100 hours. This is not how it’s supposed to be. We are in the 21st century,” said Dora Caglar, 21, who is originally from Turkey but lives in Victoria to study at the University of Victoria.

As the clock ticks, Vancouver Islanders are looking to help

“Turkey its next to each other, we should love each other so why not,” said Eirini Sypsa, owner of Greek ‘N Go, a food truck on Cook Street in Victoria.

Despite just opening Greek ‘N Go will be donating 15 per cent of their working sales starting Thursday to the non-government Turkish charity Ahbap.

“Technically donating it doesn’t help us out, but we do it with love and we would love it if people could come here and donate if they can,” said Sypsa.

The federal government announced Wednesday it’s going to match up to $10 million in donations to the Canadian Red Cross.

However it’s done, Vancouver Island’s Turkish community is calling to Canadians to donate if they can, to the people suffering in the midst of the world’s deadliest earthquake in over a decade.

“Race gender, religion all other things doesn’t matter when these big things happen. So this is help to humanity. Not just Muslim individuals in Turkey from the middle east, I think this is a call for humanity,” said Gulsen.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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