FACT SHEET: The Biden-Harris Administration’s Response to the Earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria
In the aftermath of the earthquakes on February 6, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. authorized an immediate U.S. response and directed the heads of federal agencies to rapidly mobilize to assist the Government of Türkiye and humanitarian partners in Syria.
Across the U.S. government, officials expressed their condolences to the people of Türkiye and Syria as well as their desire to support the humanitarian response. In the hours following the earthquakes, President Biden called President Erdogan to convey the readiness of the U.S. government to provide any and all needed assistance to our NATO Ally Türkiye. Secretary Tony Blinken, Secretary Lloyd Austin, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan engaged their Turkish counterparts, and USAID Administrator Samantha Power spoke with the head of the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets. First Lady Jill Biden sent a personal note of condolence to First Lady Emine Erdogan, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited the Turkish Embassy to express condolences to the Turkish Ambassador and sign the official condolences book. U.S. officials have remained in regular coordination with their Turkish counterparts, with UN agencies, and with partners in Syria on how we can best support their efforts. Finally, the U.S. government affirmed to the Syrian mission to the UN that our humanitarian assistance is available to all Syrians, no matter where they live, and that we are ready to provide additional support.
Life-saving efforts by the U.S. in the impacted region:
- Yesterday, the U.S. announced it will provide $85 million in life-saving assistance to provide shelter to the displaced, as well as food, medicine and other desperately needed aid.
- USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to the earthquake region, which includes experienced emergency managers, construction riggers, hazardous materials technicians, licensed engineers and emergency medicine physicians, logisticians, paramedics, planners, search-and-rescue specialists, and search-and-rescue dogs with handlers.
- With transportation support from the Department of Defense, two USAID urban search and rescue teams, composed of 159 members and 12 rescue dogs, quickly deployed from the U.S. to support Turkish search and rescue efforts.
- To date, the U.S. has deployed approximately 170,000 pounds of specialized tools and equipment—including hydraulic concrete breaking equipment, saws, torches, and drills, along with advanced medical equipment to assist with search and rescue operations in Türkiye.
- The Commander of U.S. European Command has directed the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe to coordinate U.S. military assistance efforts.
- U.S. Black Hawk helicopters are supporting airlift operations from Incirlik Airbase in Türkiye, transporting rescue personnel to sites that are most needed for rescue operations and difficult to access given the extent of the destruction.
- U.S.-funded humanitarian partners are providing assistance throughout all areas of Syria, including health services, shelter support, food assistance, and access to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Those partners include the White Helmets, who have pulled more than 1,000 survivors from the rubble and U.S.-supported Syrian medics who have been treating survivors across Idlib, Aleppo, and other affected areas.
- U.S. officials have worked with Turkish authorities to ensure operations can resume at Bab al-Hawa crossing, a critical lifeline for UN-provided cross-border assistance into northwestern Syria.
- Yesterday, to underscore that U.S. sanctions will not prevent or inhibit providing humanitarian assistance in Syria, the Department of the Treasury issued a broad General License to provide additional authorizations for disaster relief assistance to the Syrian people. This license will be in effect for six months. U.S. humanitarian assistance is delivered directly to the Syrian people, no matter where they live.
Support available to U.S. Citizens in Türkiye:
- U.S. Consular Affairs staff in Türkiye and the United States are working tirelessly to provide consular assistance to American victims their families, and any U.S. citizens in the affected areas.
- Individuals in need of immediate, local emergency assistance in Türkiye should call Turkish authorities using the phone number 112. U.S. citizens impacted by the earthquake should contact the U.S. Embassy Ankara.
- Information is available to U.S. citizens in the area through alerts, the U.S. embassy and consulate websites, and travel.state.gov.
The Biden-Harris Administration commends the outpouring of support from around the world. USAID’s Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) has a list of vetted organizations responding to this crisis.