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Some European countries ease visa process for Türkiye, Syria quake victims

Some European countries have decided to ease visa procedures for victims of last week’s earthquakes in Türkiye to be hosted by relatives living across Europe.

Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany have all taken action to facilitate visa applications of Turkish and Syrian citizens residing in their countries so that they can temporarily host their relatives affected by last Monday’s earthquakes.

In a statement, the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration said on Sunday that people whose houses were destroyed in the quakes should apply for emergency medical support to benefit from an accelerated visa process.

It noted that those victims can get a “rapid pass” form from the Swiss Consulate General in Istanbul, but added visa processes will still be done in accordance with Schengen policy.

So far 603 visa applications have been made along these lines, added the secretariat.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands said that the Dutch government will provide “priority visa appointments” to those who seek to travel to their relatives in the Netherlands from Türkiye.

Spouses and relatives of Dutch nationals who apply for a temporary visa to the Netherlands can get a priority visa appointment from the intermediary institution by sending their phone numbers to the Foreign Ministry through the mail.

READ MORE: Live updates: Survivors still being found as Türkiye, Syria toll soars

Special visas

Nicole de Moor, Belgium’s minister for asylum and migration, said that many Belgians would like to help their relatives in Türkiye and temporarily take care of them at home.

“I have instructed the Immigration Office to speed up the visa application procedure,” she said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, a petition drive has been launched in the UK urging the government to issue special visas to Turkish earthquake victims who have relatives in the country.

So far, more than 68,000 people signed the petition.

Germany is also planning to allow quake-hit victims in Türkiye and Syria to stay temporarily with relatives in Germany.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has said that the process would be done as part of regular visas but the process would be completed swiftly.

The temblors caused widespread damage and killed over 29,000 people in Türkiye’s south and southeast, according to the latest figures.

READ MORE: ‘There is always hope’: More survivors found 155 hours after Türkiye quakes

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