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Unions donate to new solidarity fund for earthquake survivors in Türkiye and Syria

news Press Release 17 Feb 2023

An emergency fund to support transport workers and their unions in Türkiye and Syria in the wake of the devastating earthquakes has been launched by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF).

“We must collectively support the incredible emergency response being coordinated by transport unions in the region following these catastrophic earthquakes,” said Paddy Crumlin, President of the ITF. “The ITF Seafarers’ Trust has already coordinated with unions to get emergency relief into some of the hardest hit areas, but as people face the gargantuan task to rebuild their lives – and for many after the loss of loved ones – there is so much more that needs to be done.”

Two huge quakes struck in the early hours of Monday 6 February 2023, flattening thousands of buildings, crippling transport infrastructure and leaving tens of thousands of people dead, hundreds of thousands injured and homeless. With the epicentre near Gaziantep in south-west Türkiye, the quakes impacted a wide area across the two countries. The ITF and ETF immediately pledged to help.

To kickstart the ITF/ETF Union Earthquake Solidarity Fund, the ITF has contributed GBP 50,000.

“We are asking for donations from affiliate unions around the world, their members and any friends who are able to help,” said Frank Moreels, President of the ETF. “Money raised will be used for immediate humanitarian support in Türkiye and Syria including food, blankets and logistics and support to address mid-term needs in both countries to strengthen unions capacity to rebuild and recover.”

Best ways to help

The situation continues to evolve and the ITF and ETF remain in close contact with affiliates in Türkiye and the region to find out the best ways they can offer support.

“Out of this heartbreak and devastation we must forge stronger links and demonstrate our solidarity in practical terms with unions and their member and families,” said Stephen Cotton, the ITF’s General Secretary. “The sheer scale of this disaster is extraordinarily hard to comprehend, however we will work arm in arm with our affiliates to deliver concrete support whether that’s providing emergency housing or other essential supplies.”

The fund will also be used to address needs in both countries over the medium-term said ETF General Secretary Livia Spera: “We must help unions there to give them the capacity to rebuild and recover. There are immediate problems, but we have to keep in mind that it will take a long time to get things back to normal.”

If you’re able to, please donate to the ITF/ETF Union Earthquake Solidarity Fund now.

ITF Seafarers’ Trust immediately respond

The ITF Seafarers’ Trust has already sent an emergency grant of GBP 30,000 to Turkish affiliate, LİMAN-İŞ, to buy provisions including heaters, blankets and food in Türkiye. Another GBP 20,000 has been sent to the Lebanese Seafarers’ Union via the ITF Arab World Office – they have bought blankets and food packs and delivered them by truck to the port of Latakia in Syria, for distribution through trusted union contacts.

“The emergency grants from the ITF Seafarers’ Trust were the first global trade union response to support the people of Türkiye and Syria,” said Bilal Malkawi, ITF Arab World Regional Secretary. “And as an indicator of how this disaster is reverberating through the global labour movement, I am sure that this is just the beginning of the humanitarian aid and assistance that we will be mobilising to help the people in both Syria and Turkey.”

Relief supplies are delivered to Syrian unions by our Lebanese sisters, brothers and comrades only a few days after the earthquakes struck.