The Sudanese Response to the Earthquakes in Türkiye – How the Disaster Drew Support From All Segments of the Sudanese Society
by İsmail Çobanoğlu
On February 6, Türkiye was hit by two devastating earthquakes which caused an unprecedented death toll and indescribable damage in our southern provinces. Many countries around the world rallied to help our country. From the very outset, the Sudanese authorities and the brotherly Sudanese people were on the frontline of relief and humanitarian efforts.
Upon instruction from the Sudanese leadership, a search and rescue team consisting of 40 members of the Sudanese Ministry of Interior’s Police Force, including 7 medical personnel from the Civil Defence Forces, was sent to Türkiye to conduct search and rescue operations. We witnessed some of their selfless efforts live on TV, holding our breath as they raced against time to rescue people from under the rubble in the face of continuing aftershocks and freezing temperatures. According to our belief, saving one human life is tantamount to saving the entire humanity. We will therefore be forever grateful to the Sudanese team who risked their own lives to save our citizens.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese authorities provided generous humanitarian assistance, including 2,000 tents and 20,000 blankets, to meet the urgent needs of the survivors of the earthquake. According to my calculations, these tents provided shelter to around 18 to 20 thousand survivors in harsh winter conditions.
Likewise, our Sudanese brothers and sisters flooded our Embassy to extend their condolences and donate their personal savings or supplies like food and warm clothing. A Sudanesewoman took off her wedding ring and offered it to us. A Sudanese man proposed to donate his personal car to our Embassy, asking us to sell it and send the money to help the survivors of the earthquake. Mobile phone networks offered special discounts for our citizens living in Sudan to communicate with their families and relatives in Türkiye at much lower prices. Sudanese airline companies volunteered to transport humanitarian items to our country free of charge. Schools and universities organized relief donation campaigns while tribal leaders offered to donate their crops and livestock.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the Sudanese leaders and people for the strong support and solidarity they have displayed in the aftermath of this disaster.
Only a couple of months ago, in one of my speeches to a mixed Turkish-Sudanese audience, I had stated that “Türkiye continues to provide humanitarian and development assistance to Sudan because the brotherly Sudanese people need our assistance at the moment. I am sure that, if the Turkish people were in such a need, the Sudanese people would be the first to come to our aid.” Although I could never have foreseen such a disaster, my prediction has already come true.
Türkiye is a strong country and we will certainly recover from this disaster, rebuild our cities and comfort our people. But we will never forget the enormous support we have received from all segments of the Sudanese society in our greatest hour of need.
According to a widespread belief in Sudan, if a foreigner visits Sudan and drinks from the Nile river even once, he or she will definitely come back. There is a well-established Turkish community in Sudan and many of them have been living in this country for decades. I sometimes joke about them; saying that they have drunk so much from the Nile that they cannot leave! But of course, the beautiful Nile river has nothing to do with that. The true answer lies with the affection, hospitality, charm and warm embrace of the Sudanese people.
I feel very lucky to live and work in this most welcoming and friendly country in the world. I hope and pray that Allah will spare our countries from such disasters in the future so that we will be able to concentrate on joint projects aimed at further enhancing our bilateral partnership to the mutual benefit of our two great nations.
İsmail Çobanoğlu is the Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye in Sudan.