Searching for Survivors – The New York Times

The earthquake is terrible on its own. The first — shortly after 4 a.m. local time on Monday — struck Turkey’s strongest earthquake in more than 80 years, followed several hours later by an unusually strong aftershock. The latest death toll is more than 5,000 and is likely to rise.

Along with the damage are three existing crises in the earthquake area, near the Syrian border in southern Turkey: first, the civil war in Syria; second, the wave of refugees entering Turkey because of the war; third, economic problems in both countries.

Today’s newsletter gives you the latest details and images from Turkey and Syria as well as an explanation of the larger issues facing the region. Those problems are complicating earthquake recovery and will continue to do so.

Osama Salloum, a doctor in an area in northwestern Syria where the earthquake hit, said: “We kept looking up at the sky for the jet. “My mind is playing tricks on me, telling me it’s war again.”

The area includes the city of Aleppo, the site of some of the worst fighting in Syria’s decades-long civil war (which has been under a ceasefire since 2020). The Syrian government razed much of Aleppo between 2012 and 2016 and killed thousands. The offensive was successful and the battle of Aleppo was a turning point in helping the Syrian government win the civil war.

Rebuilding has since been limited, Our colleague Raja Abdulrahim wrote, and the earthquake created a whole new set of problems. A spokesman for the International Rescue Committee said: “In any other part of the world this would be an emergency. “What we have in Syria is an emergency within an emergency.”

The influx of Syrian refugees into Western Europe has received a lot of attention in recent years. In some countries, including Italy and Germany, it appears to have consolidated far-right political parties.

But the scale of war-related migration to Turkey is to another large extent. As an economist write:

At the end of 2010, just before the start of the war, Turkey had only 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Twelve years on, it hosts 3.6 million Syrians, more than the rest of Europe combined, plus more than a million migrants from Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East and Russia. Turkey is a country in transition.

Recovering from the earthquake will be even more difficult for refugees living in shelters, such as three “container cities” in the southeast of the country.

As prices have skyrocketed around the world over the past few years, central banks have raised interest rates. Economists across ideologies agree with the approach (even if they disagree on the details): By making loans more expensive, central banks reduce demand and reduce inflation.

However, Turkey has pursued a very different monetary policy. It has lowered interest rates. I will excuse you from the technical arguments its government has made in defense of this policy, because it has failed. Annual inflation has ranged from 50% to 90% over the past year, making it difficult for many families and businesses.

Earthquakes have the potential to make matters worse by disrupting supply chains and production. As the world has experienced during the Covid era, supply chain problems reduce the supply of goods and, by extension, often cause price increases.

Southeastern Turkey, where the earthquake occurred, is one of the poorest regions of the country. Economic recession seems exacerbating concerns about refugee flows.

Syria’s economy is even worse than Turkey’s because of the war. Our colleague, Liz Alderman, notes that Syria’s GDP — a measure of total economic output — has more than halved between 2010 and 2020.

For more: Many organizations are supporting the rescue efforts. Here’s How You Can Help Victims.

Advice from Wirecutter: The Best fitness equipment.

Life lived: Attorney Harry Whittington unexpectedly rose to fame in 2006 as the unintended victim of Vice President Dick Cheney’s shotgun shooting. He gained more attention a few days later when he apologized to Cheney. Whittington dies aged 95.

Scandal: Premier League Officials accuse Manchester City, the defending champion, with a financial rule violation. The club could face suspension or even expulsion.

One year vacation: Tom Brady said he would join Fox’s broadcast booth in 2024. That should ease the pressure on Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen, who will call the Super Bowl on Sunday.

When the first library in Nairobi, Kenya, opened in 1931, access was restricted to white patrons. Nearly a century later, a nonprofit group is trying to turn the city’s old libraries into inclusive public spaces, Times Abdi Latif Dahir wrote.

In addition to restoring a number of libraries that have deteriorated over the years, the nonprofit is working to digitize their archives, bring more books in African languages, and help people with disabilities.

“Our public libraries can be compelling storytelling spaces,” says Angela Wachuka, a Kenyan publisher. “We are also here to take back history, to capture its architecture and subvert its intended use.”


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