By: Aseel al-Akhras
With individual initiatives and at the invitation of the Palestinian Doctors Union in Turkey, dozens of Palestinian doctors in Turkey rushed to support the Turkish medical staff from the first moment of the devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of more than 8,574 Turkish citizens.
The head of the Palestinian Doctors Union in Turkey, Ahmad Ashour, confirmed to WAFA that the Palestinian doctors present in the cities affected by the earthquake and other cities, rushed from the first hours to support the Turkish medical staff.
He added that the Union, in coordination with the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Turkey and the active Palestinian associations registered in Turkey, has established a crisis cell to help those affected.
He continued saying that the Union of Palestinian Physicians and Pharmacists in Turkey, which is registered as a medical association in Turkey, sent a group of members of the administrative body of the stricken areas to assist the medical staff in the hospitals of the earthquake-stricken areas, and that all doctors in the stricken cities were contacted to check on them and the Palestinian community there and to provide what is necessary in order to help those affected.
Ashour explained that the Union, in coordination with the Turkish government agencies and the Turkish Medical Association, sent Palestinian doctors to volunteer in the cities of Kahramanmaraş, Adana, Malatya, and Gaziantep.
He appealed the masses to donate blood, and appealed with an introduction to the donation centers and the blood donation mechanism, asking his members and the Palestinian community to donate at al-Ittihad Bank account, and to deliver these donations to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD.)
Anesthesiologist Thaer Mezher, a Palestinian doctor residing in the Turkish city of Istanbul, said that more than 20 doctors went to the affected cities a few hours after the earthquake, whether on individual initiatives or after coordination with the union that organized the process of the doctors’ arrival and providing the necessary assistance to those affected.
He pointed out that the Union, in cooperation with its affiliates of doctors and members of the Palestinian community in Turkey, collected in-kind assistance such as medicines, food and winter blankets for those affected by the earthquake.
Mezher pointed out that approximately 200 Palestinian doctors of various specialties are present in Turkey, and distributed in various cities, supporting Turkish medical staff, and that the Turkish authorities decided to transfer the casualties to hospitals in the cities neighboring the affected areas for treatment.
On the situation in the affected Turkish cities, Mezher said that more than 10 Turkish provinces were affected by the devastating earthquake, most of which are food basket areas and ports, noting that they are of great importance to other cities.
He explained that there is a shortage of relief workers, medicines, food and drinking water.
He pointed out that coordination has been made with the Director of the Palestinian International Cooperation Agency (PICA), Ambassador Imad Al-Zuhairi, to coordinate efforts and cooperate with the Palestinian support team, which includes doctors, civil defense personnel and paramedics from the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which arrives in Turkey and Syria within hours.
Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, and under the instructions of the President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, instructed to send civil defense teams and medical teams to participate in the search and rescue work for the victims of the devastating earthquake that struck areas in Turkey and Syria on Monday morning, leaving thousands dead and injured and causing great material damage.
According to a member of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), Anas Al-Jazzar, many graduate engineering students and medical students joined the Disaster AFAD, at its request, saying that many of them went to the affected areas for technical assistance in examining the damages related to engineers, and assisting doctors in hospitals in regarding to medical students.
The death toll from the devastating earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwestern Syria rose to more than 11,200 people.
According to official figures, 8,574 people died in Turkey, and 2,662 in Syria, bringing the total death toll to 11,236.
The number of victims among Palestinian people in Turkey has reached 20 so far, in addition to 48 Palestinian refugees in Syria.