Ending a three-day visit to Türkiye, Simon Moutquin (Belgium, SOC), PACE’s rapporteur on political strategies to prevent, prepare for, and face the consequences of natural disasters, has urged European political leaders to intensify solidarity with the victims: “We must stand by the people of Hatay and other earthquake-hit regions. My findings were chilling: in Antakya, 80 per cent of the buildings are destroyed. The first major earthquake occurred on 6 February during the night while people were sleeping. It was both terrifying and apocalyptic. Today, many survivors have left; mostly vulnerable people remain, including children, women, and the elderly.”
During his visit, Mr Moutquin met with rescue services, NGOs, local authorities, and representatives of the international community to assess the situation. The rapporteur stressed that the consequences of the earthquake would be felt for years to come. “We Europeans must collectively learn from this catastrophe, which is the worst in a century, in a Council of Europe member State.” He, therefore, called for increasing and continuous technical co-operation and assistance in the affected regions: “Solidarity can be marked by increasing partnerships between other European cities and cities in the affected provinces, especially through twinning.”
For the rapporteur, the right to a safe environment should come together with the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment in Europe. It should be at the heart of discussions during the Fourth Summit of the Council of Europe, due to take place on 16-17 May in Reykjavik (Iceland).
Mr Moutquin’s report will be debated by the Parliamentary Assembly during its next part-session in Strasbourg, on 24-28 April 2023.