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Connecticut’s Syrian community meets with Murphy, travels to Turkey to help with relief efforts

Rescue teams search for people as cranes remove debris from destroyed buildings in Antakya, southeastern Turkey, Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. Rescuers pulled several earthquake survivors from the shattered remnants of buildings Friday, including some who lasted more than 100 hours trapped under crushed concrete after the disaster slammed Turkey and Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Hussein Malla
/
AP
Rescue teams search for people as cranes remove debris from destroyed buildings in Antakya, southeastern Turkey, Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. Rescuers pulled several earthquake survivors from the shattered remnants of buildings Friday, including some who lasted more than 100 hours trapped under crushed concrete after the disaster slammed Turkey and Syria.

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake has struck Syria and Turkey, which are still devastated from an earthquake earlier this month.

Reem Connor, a Syrian woman who lives in Stratford, Connecticut, is on the ground in Turkey. She said she is there to provide relief to a community of terrified, but brave, survivors.

Reem Connor described the situation from her hotel in Adana, Turkey.

“We started just hearing noises and looked at the lights and they were moving,” Connor said. “Everyone just kind of ran outside.”

Her family's homes in Gaziantep were thought to be safe after the first earthquake, but now, they have been instructed to stay out of them for fear they may fall. They’ve been instructed to sleep in their cars.

Connor said the worst destruction she’s seen since arriving in Turkey was in Antakya.

“The whole town is on the ground,” Connor said. “The buildings that are still standing are definitely not going to make it. They actually declared that it's going to be leveled and they're going to rebuild the city.”

Dylan Connor, Reem’s husband, is a member of the Syrian American Council.

He met with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) in Hartford, Connecticut to talk about funding for a region that is suffering, not only from natural disaster, but from long-term political instability.

Connor said the Syrian American Council is pushing for $50 million in aid to northwest Syria to help support children.

“With this double whammy of the earthquake, so many youths are just, their lives are destroyed,” Dylan Connor said. “And they’re prime targets for trafficking and for extremism. So he [Murphy] was very open and he really likes the idea of U.S. money being used in the capacity to help children and their education and stabilizing their lives.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murphy is in a position to propose the funding to lawmakers.

Murphy said it's important for the government to keep supporting Syria and Turkey, especially as news coverage slows.

“I'm glad that the world is paying attention,” Murphy said. “I'm glad the administration is focused. But we're going to need to make sure that as these headlines disappear. . . we make sure that our government response increases rather than falls away.”

The Connor’s said the best way to support Turkey and Syria is through monetary donations to organizations like Olive Branch, a nonprofit focused on providing long-term relief. Reem’s cousin started the NGO, and she has coordinated with them on the ground in Turkey to bring supplies and money to survivors.

WSHU has compiled a list of local and global resources for those looking to support Syria and Turkey here.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.