Austria Supports Earthquake Victims in Turkish-Syrian Border Area

PeopleOther ♦ Published: February 7, 2023; 19:35 ♦ (Vindobona)

The devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria left devastation and over 6000 people dead. The search for survivors in the rubble continues, among other things with numerous international aid. Austria is also sending aid with 82 soldiers and 3 million euros from the Foreign Disaster Fund (AKF) for relief organizations. NGOs in Vienna, meanwhile, are asking for monetary donations.

Preparing for the Austrian Armed Forces' deployment in Türkiye before departure at the airfield in Hörsching. / Picture: © Bundesheer/Klaus Unterbuchberger

After the devastating earthquakes, aid from Austria is also starting. In addition to the distribution of 3 million euros from the Foreign Disaster Fund for relief organizations on the ground, a unit of the Austrian Armed Forces, the "Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit" (AFDRU) was also sent to Türkiye to rescue buried victims. Having already received clearance from the EU, the reconnaissance team set off from Linz-Hörsching. At the airport, Vienna-Schwecht further equipment was loaded and in the afternoon the remaining forces will take off.

The Austrian Armed Forces contingent that will search for survivors in Türkiye after the earthquake consists of 82 men and women. Of these, 70 are servicemen and women, six civilian army mountain guides and six civilian search dog guides with their dogs.

According to current plans, the disaster relief operation is scheduled to last about ten days. The AFDRU disaster relief element is structured so that three rescue and recovery groups can be deployed to two separate search locations. Army medical, logistics, and hygiene experts support the AFDRU rescuers in their operations.

Three rescue and recovery groups can be deployed at two separate search locations, supported by medical, logistics and hygiene experts from the Austrian Armed Forces. The AFDRU unit will be able to leave for Türkiye on February 7, and the mission is initially planned for about 10 days.

AFDRU will be formed from volunteers from the active and militia ranks only when the occasion arises and will be supplemented by civilian specialists, such as rescue dog handlers, as needed. Responsibility for the deployment and formation of AFDRU lies with the command of the NBC Defense Center in Korneuburg.

Further help from Austria

Meanwhile, Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer pledged financial help from the Foreign Disaster Fund. He announced on Twitter that Austria would donate three million euros.

"The terrible pictures that reached us today from Turkey and Syria after the earthquakes show drastic damage and a large number of victims. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with the victims and their families," Chancellor Karl Nehammer expressed his sympathy in a press release.

Following a request from Türkiye, the EU is sending forces from the Civil Protection Mechanism to the disaster area. A team from Vorarlberg will also be there. Another 25 specialists are to be transported to Türkiye, including firefighters, three emergency doctors and four mountain rescue dog handlers with specially trained dogs. "Every hour counts here to rescue survivors from the rubble," says Interior Minister Gerhard Karner.

Ozan Ceyhun, the Turkish ambassador in Austria thanked on Twitter for Antteilnahme and the rapid assistance of Austria in this natural disaster.

NGOs in Austria collect donations

As a result of the earthquake disaster, several NGOs also responded immediately. They request donations in various mailings to assist directly in the disaster area. Syrians have endured numerous crises and civil wars for years, making the catastrophe especially devastating.

The large Muslim, especially Turkish diaspora in Vienna is organizing to support Turkey. Since yesterday, several dozen volunteers from the Turkish Community in Vienna have been working at the KÖSK Event Hall in Liesing. Donations are being collected for earthquake victims in Turkey, and aid is being transported there. Korbgemeinschaft, a Christian foundation with a ninth district office, organizes help for Syria, which is also affected.

Federal Chancellery of Austria

Austrian Armed Forces