It was debating reports from the Economic Affairs Committee (Economic consequences of the recent earthquakes in Turkey and in Greece by Oya AKGÔNENC, Turkey, EDG and Elefterios VERIVAKIS, Greece, SOC) and Social Affairs Committee (Social consequences of the recent earthquakes in Turkey, Laszlo SURJAN, Hungary, EPP).
The earthquakes which struck Turkey on 17 August and 12 November 1999 left almost 18 000 people dead and 49 000 injured and caused an estimated damage of 1.3 billion USD in Turkey's GDP and 2.4 billion USD in production and industry in the four worst hit provinces, which accounted for 80 per cent of Turkish industrial production. Over 35 000 buildings were completely destroyed and 25 000 more were severely damaged. On 7 September, an earthquake hit the northern part of Athens, killing 150 people, injuring over 2,000, leaving 72,000 people homeless and destroying thousands of buildings.
The Assembly backed proposals in the Economic Affairs report that International Monetary Fund (IMF) cash should continue to be given to on-going economic reform projects as a way of bridging the disruptions caused by the earthquake. It stressed the need for the rapid release of funds from the World Bank, the IMF, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Council's own development bank to be backed up with long-term funds. A European fund to provide urgent help after natural disasters should be set up, it said.
For the Social Affairs Committee, Laszlo Surjan (Hungary EPP) said despite the international aid families were still living in make-shift tents and buildings, relying on social welfare in an area where winters are particularly hard.
He said Europe must learn lessons from the earthquakes by developing an effective disaster management strategy and by ensuring that anti-earthquake standards were followed by builders.
He called on the international community to step up financial aid and to foster social partnerships - including counselling for traumatised victims and rehabilitation for injured workers. It should also lend its know-how to help build civil society and effective decentralised administration in Turkey, he said. He called for the international community to co-ordinate its action on the ground to make sure that victims were given the most efficient help possible.
Cathie Burton or Dmitri Marchenkov, Council of Europe Press Service
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