Germany to issue visas to hundreds of thousands of Turkish and Syrian earthquake survivors

People sort and pack relief supplies at a collection point for the Turkish community in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. Hundreds of members of Berlin's Turkish community flocked to a music school in the German capital to donate essential humanitarian supplies after southern Turkey and northern Syria were hit by double earthquakes on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

The German government has announced it will immediately issue entry visas to all those affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria who have relatives in Germany.

“It is a matter of helping those in need. We want to make it possible for Turkish or Syrian families in Germany to bring their close relatives from the disaster region unbureaucratically so that they can find shelter with us and receive medical treatment,” Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) told the BILD newspaper. The costs are apparently to be borne by the taxpayer.

“With regular visas that are issued quickly and are valid for three months. We will make this possible together with the Foreign Office,” the SPD politician stressed.

According to U.N. figures, some 25 million people have been affected by the earthquake that struck southeastern Turkey in the early hours of last Monday morning.

With millions of Turks and Syrians already residing in Germany, the new government policy could see hundreds of thousands benefit from immediate entry permits.

“Who will provide for them and where they will be housed, given the dramatic housing shortage?” German news outlet Junge Freiheit asked. “How is a return ensured and who is actually considered to be affected? Completely unclear!” it added.

The news outlet highlighted that severe earthquakes are frequent in the region and could reoccur, while there is virtually no earthquake-proof housing in the country, unlike other countries such as Japan.

Instead of issuing visas, other European nations including Poland and Hungary sent humanitarian aid and search rescue teams.

The death toll following the tremors last week has now risen to over 34,000 people.

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