Flood waters rage in Turkey after February’s deadly earthquakes
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Brussels has been warned to be “very wary” about approving funds to Turkey in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should not be trusted to use the money wisely, it has been warned. The European Union and international donors on Monday pledged €7 billion (£6.2 billion) to help Turkey and Syria in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated parts of the neighbouring countries last month.
The European Commission said after the fundraising conference in Brussels that €6.05 billion of the total pledge will be going to Turkey, in grants and loans.
The Commission added: “The European Commission and the EU Member States, as well as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development represent more than 50 percent of this total pledge of grants, with €3.6 billion euros.”
But in a warning to the Commission over disbursing funds to Ankara, Dr Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society, told Express.co.uk the bloc should be “very wary about shovelling money into Mr Erdogan’s pockets”.
He said: “While nobody can fail to be moved by the scale of human suffering caused by Turkey’s earthquake, the EU should be very wary about shovelling money into Mr Erdogan’s pockets in terms of relief.
Ursula von der Leyen pledged funds to Turkey to rebuild the country after the earthquake and floods (Image: Getty)
Erdogan put the cost of reconstruction at $104 billion (Image: Getty)
“The disaster has highlighted the corruption endemic in Turkish infrastructure projects seeing as earthquake preparations that should have been in place were mishandled.
“Any funds sent to Erdogan should therefore be carefully scrutinised and only released in tranches where it has been proven they have been used for the purposes intended.”
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake on February 6 killed more than 52,000 people — the vast majority in Turkey.
Nearly 300,000 buildings in Turkey either collapsed or were severely damaged, according to the country’s president.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the time: “We have shown to the people in Turkey and Syria that we are supporting those in need.”
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Von der Leyen added that the global pledge included €1.1 billion from the Commission, and 500 millions from the European Investment Bank, backed by the EU budget.
Erdogan addressed the conference via videolink and described some of the reconstruction challenges, including deadly floods that hit parts of the earthquake zone last week.
He said: “Some of the aftershocks have been going on for a while and they are of equal magnitude to a separate earthquake.
“We have been fighting against the flood disasters and challenging weather conditions.”
Erdogan said some 298,000 buildings across 11 provinces affected by the earthquake were destroyed or left unfit for use.
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The magnitude 7.8 earthquake on February 6 killed more than 52,000 people (Image: Getty)
He added: “No single country can fight against such a disaster, regardless of its level of economic development.
“Your contributions made at this conference will contribute to the healing of wounds and wipe clean the traces of this disaster.”
He put the cost of reconstruction at $104 billion.
The conference hosted by the European Commission and Sweden — which holds the rotating presidency of the EU — was attended by NGOs, G-20 countries and UN members as well as international financial institutions.
Survivors of the earthquake in rebel-held northwest Syria have received very little assistance because of deep divisions exacerbated by the country’s 12-year war. The EU said 15.3 million Syrians of a population of 21.3 million already required humanitarian assistance before the earthquake struck.
The bloc has been providing humanitarian aid to Syria since 2011 and wants to step it up. But it does not intend to help with reconstruction in the war-torn country, with EU sanctions against the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad in place due to its continued crackdown against civilians.
Von der Leyen said the Commission pledged an additional €108 million in humanitarian aid for Syria on Monday.
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