In the night between 5 and 6 February, southern Türkiye and northern Syria were hit by an earthquake, which caused thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of injured, and extensive damage to houses and civilian infrastructures.
To address the rapidly deteriorating situation, the Turkish and Syrian authorities have requested the activation of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM), an instrument that allows for the coordination of support interventions by the European Commission and the Member States, and which also provides for the partial reimbursement by the EU of the costs incurred by the Member States to aid the affected country.
With regard to the seismic events, the Italian Council of Ministers, as proposed by the Minister for Civil Protection and Sea Policies, Nello Musumeci, resolved to declare a state of emergency for Italian intervention abroad. The state of emergency, which is valid for six months, provides for urgent rescue and assistance interventions to the population, for the implementation of which the National Emergency Fund will be used. Italy’s intervention is part of the broader mobilisation efforts under the European Civil Protection Mechanism.
In the early afternoon of 6 February, the Italian Civil Protection Department coordinated the deployment of a first search and rescue team – composed of operators from the Department and the National Fire and Rescue Service – to Adana in order to support an urban search and rescue team. The latter landed at the military base in Incirlik on 7 February with experts from the Civil Protection Department, search and rescue personnel from the Fire and Rescue Service and medical personnel. The same afternoon, a new flight of the Italian Air Force left to deliver further personnel and equipment to Türkiye. The base camp of the Italian team has been set up in the Hatay Province and will serve as an operational and logistical base. On 12 February, a second team from the Italian National Fire and Rescue Service arrived in Türkiye to take turns with the first one.
Furthermore, Italy has arranged with the European Commission to send other units and essential goods, including what is needed to set up a field hospital (provided by Piedmont). These was transported to Türkiye by the Navy ship San Marco – made available by the Italian Ministry of Defence thanks to the coordination of the Covi – Comando Operativo Vertice Interforze (Joint Operations Headquarters) – which has already arrived at the port of Alexandretta. Also aboard the ship are medical supplies donated by the regions of Abruzzo and Apulia. In addition, tents and cots, able to accommodate 1,000 people, have been offered to the Syrian authorities.
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation continues to send aid to the areas affected by the earthquake and its consequences, including Syria. On 11 February, under the coordination of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a flight departed from Pisa airport to Beirut transporting ambulances, doctors, medicines and medical supplies offered by the San Donato Group to support the humanitarian response in Syria.
The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, at the proposal of Minister Tajani and Deputy Minister Cirielli, has responded to the emergency appeals of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), by arranging two emergency funds worth EUR 1.75 million in support of the Federation. Of this amount, EUR 1 million will go to support the activities of the Turkish Red Crescent, while EUR 750,000 will go in support of the Syrian Red Crescent, to assist in the areas of first aid and shelter, sanitation and protection. This funding adds to the EUR 1 million allocated to the Syrian Red Crescent for first aid interventions.
With these funds, IFRC plans to carry out activities for the shelter (including cash distribution), health, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and protection of local populations.
Italy is also among the top 10 contributors to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (UNCERF), which has allocated USD 50 million to aid earthquake victims.