EU executive offers 1 billion euros to help rebuild Turkey from earthquake

A destroyed business in Antakya Kucuk Sanyi Sitesi Industrial Estate is pictured in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Antakya, Hatay province, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The EU executive will give 1 billion euros ($1.07 bln) to help reconstruction in Turkey, the head of the European Commission said on Monday in launching an international conference to drum up support following a devastating earthquake there last month.

Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said the earthquake killed nearly 50,000 people in Turkey and the neighbouring Syria, the largest natural disaster in the region in years.

"Millions are now homeless and living in tents as the winter drags on," she told at the start of the conference.

"We need to mobilise for reconstruction. Homes and schools and hospitals must be rebuilt, with the highest standards of seismic safety. Water and sanitation and other critical infrastructure must be repaired. Public services and businesses need capital to restart, so that people can earn a living."

She said the Commission would spend a further 108 million euros on humanitarian assistance and early recovery in Syria, where the European Union does not have diplomatic ties with President Bashar al-Assad over a war that had started in 2011.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimated "total financial burden of the earthquake disaster" for Turkey at some $103.6 billion and said that amounted to 9% of the country's GDP forecast for 2023.

($1 = 0.9343 euros)

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten)

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