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Turkey earthquake: Some Rwandans stranded but safe – Embassy

Turkey earthquake: Some Rwandans stranded but safe – Embassy

All Rwandans who live in areas affected by the earthquake in Turkey are safe, the Embassy of Rwanda in Turkey said.

More than 4,300 people have died and rescuers are racing to pull survivors from beneath the rubble after a devastating earthquake ripped through Turkey and Syria, leaving destruction and debris on each side of the border.

“The earthquake was really terrible. So far 3,381 people died in Turkey according to the Turkish Emergency and Disaster Management Agency (AFAD) in the last one hour. All Rwandans are safe. We have seven Rwandans in affected Provinces but they are all safe,” a Rwandan embassy official told The New Times.

“I was talking, a while ago, to three Rwandans who are in Gaziantep, one of the most affected provinces. They are fine but have not yet returned back to their houses.”

These Rwandans, the embassy said, have rented a car they are staying in since Monday waiting for the government to announce if people can return back to their houses.

Residents have set up tents to live in open spaces where there are no facilities which can collapse.

The embassy said that the other Rwandans, who live in Adana and Sanliurfa provinces affected by the earthquake were in Ankara when the earthquake happened.

“They are still in Ankara. So far, the embassy is in touch with three Rwandans who are in Gasianstep province, one of the most affected provinces.”

“We asked them to come to Ankara (which is safe from earthquake) if they cannot go back to their houses but there is a challenge of some airports that are closed in that area while the one that is operating is busy with emergency activities. People going there and aircraft taking humanitarian assistance. Some roads have also been damaged by the earthquake and also due to weather, heavy snow, road transport is also difficult,” the embassy noted.

A Rwandan who works at UNHCR, the embassy said, is part of the team delivering humanitarian aid.

Stranded Rwandan recounts ordeal

Charlotte Uwihirwe has been working in Turkey for nine years.

She is among three Rwandans in Gasianstep province, one of the affected provinces.

“I heard the earthquake around 04:00 am. All people went out although it was raining and we were experiencing snow. The government directed all people to go to prepared areas that have no buildings. We got food and bed coverings. We rented a car in which we are staying,” she said.

She said that some buildings around their house have collapsed.

Uwihirwe said that although the earthquake is currently not as terrible as the first days, no one is allowed to return back to their houses until there is approval from the government.

“We are still facing aftershocks. Some are returning to their houses to collect some basic needs and quickly come back to places that have no buildings. I reached my residence some hours ago and came back into the car. Some roads were also cut,” she said.

Heroes day celebration postponed

The embassy of Rwanda also announced that it postponed heroes day celebrations in Ankara until further notice.

“Postponing the event is in line with joining our Turkish brothers and sisters in this mourning period by giving respect and value to those who lost their lives in this strategy. We would like to convey our deepest condolences to the families of those who died in the earthquake and to comfort the people of Turkey in this terrible moment,” it said.

Turkey declared seven days of national mourning after catastrophic earthquakes devastated the country’s southeastern provinces, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday.

In a message posted on his official Twitter account, the president said the country declared a week of mourning and will lower its flags to half-mast at home and at diplomatic missions across the world until Feb 12, 2023.

There are about 270 Rwandans in Turkey, the official said.

Rwanda’s exports to Turkey have increased to over $10 million on an annual basis, according to the Private Sector Federation.

Turkey earthquake: Some Rwandans stranded but safe - Embassy
Turkey earthquake: Some Rwandans stranded but safe – Embassy

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