March 7, 2023
Ambassador Flake: Last year my wife and I were able to come here to Hatay and visit the good people here, so it was really heartbreaking for us to see what happened here and the devastation that this earthquake brought. Not just one earthquake, but several since, making it difficult for people to get back into their structures.
As soon as this earthquake happened, President Biden called President Erdoğan and he directed the US government to respond in whatever way we could to help the Turkish people.
I always point out to my former colleagues in Congress at home and to the American press that Türkiye has responded to earthquakes around the world for years. In fact, over seven years, I believe Türkiye has responded to natural disasters on five continents in 50 countries. So it’s time for the rest of the world to pay back.
Because Türkiye has been so generous in times past, you’ve seen the world respond as it has: More than a hundred countries responding with supplies, people, rescue efforts. In the U.S. we’ve committed $185 million as a government and from the private sector in the United States, that amount is approaching $100 million.
The U.S. response has been in response to what the Turkish needs are. We asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and AFAD and others, “What do you need?” Initially it was search and rescue teams. Those came and helped out, in Adıyaman in particular. And then it was field hospitals like this one.
I just want to pay tribute and thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative here, thank you for your cooperation, and also the Turkish military for the partnerships that we have. When Secretary Blinken was here, he and I and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu were able to fly over this area and Secretary Blinken said “We’re helping our friends – this is what friends do.” And the Turkish people are certainly friends of the United States.
Our purpose today is to turn over the keys of this $16 million dollar field hospital over to the Turkish Ministry of Health. This facility was constructed in about five days by the US military, and I am told that even before getting the keys, you treated 300 patients yesterday.
When this earthquake happened, President Biden and Secretary Blinken said we’ll be here as long as it takes to help our friends here in Türkiye. And this field hospital is a symbol of that partnership. Thank you.