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Andrew Mitchell makes first trip by UK minister to earthquake-hit Turkey

The development minister has visited Turkey to witness the impact of UK aid helping people affected by devastating earthquakes.

Andrew Mitchell is the first UK minister to visit the disaster zone since the February 6 quake which has killed at least 44,000 in Turkey and Syria.

He thanked UK medics working alongside Turkish doctors at a UK-led field hospital in Turkoglu in the country’s south.

He also met the White Helmets volunteer group, Syrian women’s organisations and aid workers from charities and UN agencies to hear what is needed in the next stage of the response.

Mr Mitchell said: “We have been working since day one of this terrible earthquake to help co-ordinate the emergency response in both Turkey and Syria and provide life-saving support to those who need it.

“As this evolving situation heads into a new phase from rescue to recovery, I’ve seen first-hand the incredible efforts on the ground at the field hospital, with UK medical teams providing live-saving operations, including to those rescued from under the rubble.

“The British public’s response to the Disasters and Emergency Committee appeal, which has now reached a staggering £88 million, underlines the strong support from the UK for rescue and recovery following this tragic event.

MIDDLE EAST Earthquake
(PA Graphics)

“I have seen and heard today how this extraordinary generosity has enabled British expertise, charities and NGOs to scale up their support and make a real difference to the people of Turkey and Syria.”

The visit followed a further £25 million UK aid package announced on Wednesday to fund tents and blankets for families made homeless in freezing conditions, as well as the ongoing deployment of medical expertise at the Turkoglu field clinic.

The extra aid brought the UK’s total financial support since the tragedy to £42.8 million.

The Government also match-funded the first £5 million of donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal providing aid in the region.