German rescuers have stopped working in Turkey due to security concerns

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Two German emergency relief organizations have suspended rescue operations in Turkey due to security concerns and reports of clashes and shootings in quake-affected areas.

Germany’s international search and rescue service ISAR and Germany’s federal technical assistance agency THW said they would resume work as soon as Turkey’s civil protection agency AFAD deems the situation safe.

“You can see the sadness slowly giving way to anger. Therefore, THW and I remain in the camp for the time being,” ISAR operations director Stephen Byer told Reuters, adding that the organizations are ready to resume operations immediately if necessary.

Turkish authorities did not report any clashes in the quake-affected region, but President Tayyip Erdogan commented on the general security situation on February 11, noting that a state of emergency had been declared and that there had been incidents of looting.

“This means that from now on, people involved in robberies or kidnappings must know that the firm hand of the state will fall on them,” Erdogan said during a visit to the region.

The Austrian Armed Forces Disaster Relief Unit (AFDRU) also briefly suspended operations on 11 February. Austrian Defense Ministry spokesman Michael Bauer tweeted that the Turkish military had taken over the protection of the AFDRU contingent. About 82 Austrian rescuers have been in Turkish Antakya since February 7, their specialists rescued nine people from the rubble.

Switzerland said it was also closely monitoring the security situation in Hatay and that security measures had been tightened. Switzerland sent 87 specialists and 8 dogs to help with the rescue operation. Since February 8, they have rescued 11 people, including two babies. On February 10, an additional mission of 12 rescuers was sent from Switzerland.

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