The Government has allocated two million euros to various initiatives to respond to the consequences of the devastating earthquake that struck parts of Turkey, Syria and Kurdistan last February. The earthquake, which took place in a region already severely affected by conflict and with millions of refugees, left nearly 60,000 people dead and impacted the lives of over nine million more.
Three months after the catastrophe, the executive takes stock of the emergency aid that President Pere Aragonès made available the same week the earthquake struck. The two million has already been channelled through various avenues; with 1.1 million euros earmarked to finance five actions by humanitarian organisations through a call for project grants for Catalan humanitarian organisations by the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation shortly after the events and which has been resolved this week. The remaining 900,000 euros were channelled through contributions to UN agencies specialised in humanitarian action.
The response mobilised by the Government to the humanitarian crisis in Turkey, Syria and Kurdistan is part of a commitment to strengthen the capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies such as the one caused by the earthquake, which is reflected in the increase of this item in the budget for 2023. In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Action and European Union incorporated into its accounts a 50% increase in the allocation for humanitarian action, from 4 to 6 million euros.
The five projects funded by the call
The call for grants arose from the extraordinary session of the Catalan Committee for Emergency Humanitarian Aid (CCAHE), the government body that coordinates and makes recommendations on the actions of Catalan institutions and entities in emergency situations, which was convened immediately after the events. During the meeting, the responses already being deployed on the ground by the entities were shared and the need to respond to the earthquake emergency was noted. The following day, President Aragonès pledged 2 million euros to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the areas affected by the earthquake.
After receiving and assessing the proposals submitted to the call for proposals, the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation selected five actions to respond to the serious consequences of the earthquake and the numerous subsequent aftershocks, totalling 1.15 million euros. These are humanitarian proposals from CESAL, Pharmaciens Mundi, Action Against Hunger, Médecins du Monde and Alliance for Solidarity.
Support for UN agencies
In addition to the call for grants, the Government of Catalonia has also channelled almost 900,000 euros from the two million euros made available to two United Nations agencies specialised in humanitarian action. These are the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), to which direct contributions have been made.
In regard to CERF, in April the Government renewed its annual contribution to this UN fund, a basket fund to respond to humanitarian crises around the world. Among other crises, contributions will go to earthquake relief in Turkey, Syria and Kurdistan. Since 2018, the Catalan Government has contributed a total of €2 million to this fund.