Qatar sends Word Cup cabins to stricken earthquake regions of Turkey and Syria

Mick the Ram

Mick the Ram

Qatar has stepped in to help to do their bit to assist those left homeless in Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquakes at the beginning of last week. The tiny gulf state are sending 10,000 mobile homes in to the stricken regions, which can then be used as temporary accommodation for as long as necessary.

Over one million are believed to be without a home in Turkey and probably a higher number in neighbouring Syria, after the collapse of an unbelievable amount of buildings. Although the gesture will only make a small dent in the problem, it will nevertheless be gratefully received, with the first 350 units leaving on board a ship, around 48 hours ago.

Death toll pushes towards 40,000

The death toll continues to rise alarmingly, with the figure passing 37,000 by lunchtime on Tuesday (14 February), with the authorities in Turkey confirming that 31,974 people have officially lost their lives as a result of the disaster; while more than 5,800 people are known to have died after suffering the affects in Syria, according to the UN and the Syrian government.

Organisation describes natural disaster as worst for a century in European region

People are still miraculously being pulled out alive from the enormous mounds of rubble, more than a week after the quakes struck, and they join the thousands who also managed to come out alive from underneath the collapsed buildings’ They find themselves in the same boat as many of those who although escaping injury, have lost everything.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describe the situation in Turkey as the worst natural disaster in a century in what it characterises as its Europe region.

First batch of units on way to Turkey

Therefore any assistance of any size is more than welcome and the donation of the portable homes will give shelter to tens of thousands of desperate people. The Qatari Fund for Development – a government body responsible for international development and foreign aid, released video footage of the first batch of 350 units being loaded on a ship, and heading for the earthquake zones.

A Qatari official said that the country always intended to donate the huge amount of portable homes they had at their disposal, but hadn’t decided quite where until now. In a statement they were pleased to report: “In view of the urgent needs in the affected areas, we have taken the decision to ship our cabins and caravans to the region, providing much needed and immediate support to the people of Turkey and Syria.”

Further shipments will continue to be made over the coming days to get the full 10,000 to the regions as quickly as possible.

Wealthy Qatar doing all it can to help

The Gulf state’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, visited Turkey at the weekend, the first foreign leader to do so since last week’s quake. The two countries have become close in the past few years developing increasingly strong links, and prior to the quakes, Doha had agreed to inject billions of dollars into the Turkish economy and had invested in shopping malls and infrastructure projects.

Although the leader stayed away from the affected areas, he did hold talks in Istanbul with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to establish exactly how Qatar could assist further, on top of the rescue teams it has already sent, together with over 100 tonnes in aid; and the cabins were an obvious opportunity to do more.

From football accommodation to life saving shelter

The units had been used as temporary housing for thousands of football fans during the World Cup in November and December of last year. Qatar’s competition organisers had installed the “homes” which resemble shipping containers, on empty stretches of the desert, surrounding the capital Doha, whichb was close to the eight stadiums used for the fixtures.

They helped alleviate an accommodation shortage during the month long tournament which attracted over a million visitors. People paid upwards of $200 per night for the privilege, but little did they know they would just a couple of months later, be used to probably save lives, giving desperate families urgently needed shelter.

Different purpose but so much more vital

At the time, in typically flamboyant Qatari style, the brightly coloured cabins were formed into a makeshift village with artificial green grass covering manicured walkways, and social areas filled with large bean-bag style chairs, and giant screens to enjoy daily coverage of the live football action.

None of that additional indulgence is required where these units are heading, but the purpose they will fulfil will it is easy to imagine, be so much more appreciated.


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