Turkey urgently requires container cities to house millions of earthquake-affected families as reconstruction efforts begin in the south-east, the country's ambassador to the UAE said on Monday.
Temporary containers to shelter people, plus portable toilets and showers, were essential as permanent homes are being built, Tugay Tuncer, Turkey’s ambassador told The National.
The death toll in areas affected by the earthquakes and numerous aftershocks has surpassed 50,000 with more than 45,000 people killed in Turkey and the toll in Syria crossing 5,900.
Mr Tuncer spoke of the need for continued humanitarian support as Turkey begins the process of rebuilding cities and transport networks.
“Container houses are stronger and more suitable for a family to live,” he said.
“We are working to have more container cities as these are suitable for long-term housing.
“The tents are fragile and are not resistant to extreme heat or cold temperatures.
“Container houses are needed because reconstruction will take one or two years to complete.”
Survivors have begun moving into containers being set up in Adiyaman, one of 11 southern provinces in Turkey struck by the deadly February 6 earthquake, according to Turkish transport and infrastructure authorities.
The World Bank last month said Turkey's reconstruction and recovery costs may exceed $68 billion.
The government has pledged to construct more than 200,000 houses to assist people struggling to cope.
“We have asked the international community for container houses, heaters, portable toilets, showers and generators,” Mr Tuncer said.
“There is also need for beds, tents, blankets and medical equipment.”
Mr Tuncer said Turkish people were trying to cope with the trauma of losing relatives while also dealing with the anxiety of aftershocks.
“The earthquakes are continuing and this is why many people who have lost their family and friends are moving to Istanbul, Ankara and other cities,” he said.
“Some continue stay in the region as the rebuilding of roads and bridges has begun.
“The main aim is to look after the survivors.”
The UAE set up two field hospitals in Turkey to care for the wounded.
Search and rescue teams from the Emirates were dispatched to find survivors in the southern cities flattened by the tremors.
As part of Operation Gallant Knight 2, the UAE's humanitarian mission to help the quake-hit countries, it sent 194 relief flights and delivered 5,514 tonnes of aid.
“The UAE has given enormous assistance and the aid will continue,” Mr Tuncer said.
Medical teams from the UAE are giving invaluable help in strongly affected areas.
“These are enormous contributions for which we are thankful,” he said.
The United Nations and the European Union have called on countries to aid with funding to support the reconstruction.
Turkish officials have warned citizens not to enter heavily damaged buildings as tremors continue.
The government has announced that people whose homes were destroyed, heavily damaged or are to be demolished can live in the container cities or in houses built by authorities.
Hundreds of thousands of tents have been set up in Turkey’s southern provinces to meet the immediate need for shelter of the earthquake survivors.