The US Chamber of Commerce has said the country’s private sector raised more than $110 million for earthquake relief for Türkiye as the US-Türkiye Business Forum convened in Washington, DC.
As the business people, diplomats and representatives from both Türkiye and the US gathered for the forum in the US capital on Monday, a minute of silence was held by the participants to honour the victims of the Feb. 6 earthquakes.
In his opening remarks, Khush Choksy, the US Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Vice President for the Middle East and Türkiye Affairs, said nearly 200 companies collectively contributed over $110 million to the initial phase of recovery efforts.
Recalling the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting last week with the Chamber to talk about the support for the people of Türkiye after the devastating earthquakes, Choksy said that this is a “critical time” to build the US-Türkiye business relationship.
Rifat Hisarciklioglu, President of Union on Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Türkiye, for his part, said that the earthquake-hit region is among the “economically significant regions of Türkiye”, especially in terms of industry and agriculture sectors.
Adding that thousands of search and rescue teams from 90 countries came to help Türkiye, he said: “We are also thankful for the solidarity of the US Chamber of Commerce, US business, US government and the international community.”
‘Next phase is rebuilding cities’
Turkish Trade Minister Mehmet Mus also addressed the forum, saying Türkiye “mobilised all the resources and means of the state for the immediate relief and recovery.”
“From now on, our priority is to make necessary preparations and build safe residential areas with their pre-quake infrastructure, roads, hospitals, schools, houses and workplaces, and so on,” he added.
He said that Türkiye’s bigger industrial facilities and the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises have been affected by the earthquakes.
“We are undertaking a comprehensive screening to identify the full impact of the disaster on such enterprises,” he said.
“We are committed to recover our losses at the shortest possible time and will bring our people to their daily life,” he said, adding that the next phase will be “re-building our cities”.
“In this vein, financing is as important as having the technical capacity,” he added.
Türkiye’s Ambassador in Washington, DC, Hasan Murat Mercan, said the “genuine solidarity” extended by the international community in the aftermath of the major earthquakes “gives us strength”.
He also thanked the US government and the private sector for their support, adding: “We are grateful”.
“All Turkish missions in the US are receiving donations of disaster relief items,” he said, while also recalling the financial donations campaigns the diplomatic missions launched quickly after the earthquakes.
He said thousands of aid materials were collected throughout the US and were shipped to Türkiye by Turkish Airlines.
US Ambassador to Türkiye Jeff Flake recalled some powerful images from the major earthquakes hitting the southern provinces of Türkiye.
Noting that the US search and rescue teams participated in the relief efforts in Türkiye, he said they also built a field hospital in Hatay province, which was constructed in five days, and was handed over to the Turkish Ministry of Health.
Adding that the US government pledged $185 million of assistance to aid Türkiye and Syria, he also praised the “robust and growing” commercial relationship between the US and Türkiye.