THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary (Istanbul, Turkey) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release November 16, 1999
REMARKS TO THE POOL BY NSC DIRECTOR FOR MULTILATERAL AND HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS VALERIE GUARNIERI Temporary shelter area Izmit, Turkey MS. GUARNIERI: -- (IN PROGRESS) -- 22 helicopters. They were out
here. The military gave about 7,000 tents. They were military -- and a lot of them -- the big tents, the big multi-family one.
Q How about this smaller one?
MS. GUARNIERI: Some of these are -- I don't know where they're from. We gave some type of standard tent to -- some -- most of them were these little GP large tents that the -- has in stock, but then there's lots of tents from elsewhere that are around here as well.
Q Is that the medical center?
MS. GUARNIERI: I don't know. I think that might be the women's center. It's part of an effort for -- to just do psycho-social rehabilitation to get the women talking with each other and sort of working out the trauma of dealing with the earthquake.
Q What about the men?
MS. GUARNIERI: The men play cards and --
Q Women don't --
MS. GUARNIERI: Women don't play cards. (Laughter.)
We also helped reestablish the water system in the area and provided blankets, plastic sheeting for shelter, some of the makeshift shelters that you've seen around where we're using a plastic sheeting, and we provided water containers. We've provided body bags, unfortunately -- that was quite sad -- 10,000 body bags that the Turkish government had asked for.
And then this most recent disaster --
Q Last week, you mean?
MS. GUARNIERI: Last week, yes.
Q Yes. How was this area affected?
MS. GUARNIERI: This area was -- it felt the shock and there were some buildings nearby that were already damaged so they weren't inhabited, but they fell down, then or, got sort of further damaged after the quake.
But I think it really shook people up emotionally because a lot of them had been sort of considering going back to their buildings that were somewhat damaged but the damage wasn't really visible. And after the quake, they said there's no way; we're going to stay; we're going to stay in the tent camp; we're not going back to those buildings. So I think it was more of an emotional issue.
In the area of Bolu Province, Duzce, that was hit by the -- that was the epicenter of the latest quake, that's where most of the casualties have been. It's a lot more rural of an area, so even though --
Q That's about 20 miles from here, or --
MS. GUARNIERI: No, it's about 70.
Q Seventy miles from here?
MS. GUARNIERI: Yes. And --
Q Could you spell the name?
MS. GUARNIERI: D-U-Z-C-E.
Q Which direction would that be?
MS. GUARNIERI: It's east.
Q Where the earthquake was last week?
MS. GUARNIERI: Yes, in both provinces. There, they had had about 200 deaths from the first earthquake and now again they had -- I think the death toll is right around 400 now.
Q Were you here last week when the earthquake hit? You're traveling with --
MS. GUARNIERI: No. I'm traveling around. We're actually looking for one of our guys, Len Thomas, who is one of the members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team who was here working on sort of looking at whether we could provide any more tents, what the requirements were, and then he deployed to Duzce.
Q Are you taking stuff from here, I mean stuff that you don't need any more or --
MS. GUARNIERI: No, we're not taking stuff. The tents -- we were going to provide another 500 tents to this area. For now, the government has asked that those be reallocated to the Duzce area. They were going to go to this camp. They were just going to go for the Izmit area, and we're leaving that decision in the hands of the government. I mean, as long as it goes towards earthquake survivors, that's fine with us.
Q Is that the 500 they announced --
MS. GUARNIERI: That's the 500 that was announced yesterday and so we'll see where that ends up.
But I mean, the people here, at least in the initial days, it was fairly warm and with plastic sheeting and stuff they were able to have a makeshift shelter. It wasn't comfortable but it did okay. Now, the people who are displaced in the freezing cold temperatures, shelter is really a critical issue.
Q Is it actually getting to freezing level?
MS. GUARNIERI: It has gotten, yes, to freezing level. I mean, it's apparently really uncomfortable.
Q What else are we doing in Duzce besides the 500 tents?
MS. GUARNIERI: We have the search and rescue team that we sent out right away. They got in there Sunday morning.
Q Is that Fairfax?
MS. GUARNIERI: Fairfax.
Q They got there Sunday afternoon?
MS. GUARNIERI: Yes.
Q But in terms of relief, what else are we doing?
MS. GUARNIERI: They got to Istanbul Sunday morning, but by the time they got to Duzce, it was Sunday afternoon.
Q What else are we doing then besides tents in the --
MS. GUARNIERI: That's it right now. We've got a DOD team and a USAID DART Team, a Disaster Assistance Response Team, that are currently looking at other ways we can help.
When I talked to them this morning, they said that they felt that the medical needs were being met by the Turkish authorities. I'm sure you heard when you were there yesterday that people seemed to be pretty happy with the government and the military's response. But what they're looking at is maybe helping address some of the water needs and then maybe some blankets, stuff like that. But they haven't made their recommendations yet.
Q That was like a couple of million dollars?
MS. GUARNIERI: Well, we put together a reconstruction package that was unveiled yesterday, and that will be for earthquake reconstruction from both earthquakes. There is $1 billion from Ex-Im that's being provided to 12 Turkish banks to help finance a number of social service activities and earthquake reconstruction.
Q Was that part of the first happenings or was that just announced yesterday?
MS. GUARNIERI: It was just announced yesterday.
Q President Clinton -- he went to that, right?
MS. GUARNIERI: At his arrival ceremony.
Q That was new money?
MS. GUARNIERI: It's new, yes. And then we're trying to get the private sector -- both the American private sector and the Turkish private sector -- to help finance reconstruction as well, and so that's why the U.S. Trade and Development Agency is pulling together a conference for December to try to spearhead that.
And then we're looking at maybe some spare parts for Golcuk. That's being reviewed right now.
Q Could you just back up that conference, the conference in December?
MS. GUARNIERI: It's the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, TDA, and they're pulling together structural engineers and US and Turkish private sector --
Q And where will that conference be?
MS. GUARNIERI: It's in Istanbul, I believe. I'm not 100 percent sure. So that should be helpful.
Anything else? No, I mean, clearly, a lot needs to be done. I think the big issue is really housing.
Q Is what?
MS. GUARNIERI: Is the housing and the reconstruction. And we've been working to try to spur multilateral funding to finance it.
Q How long do you intend to be staying there?
MS. GUARNIERI: Everyone we were talking to today said there was no way they were going to go back until they build, particularly after the latest earthquake.
Q What do you know about this idea that, in Duzce, the Turkish government had been encouraging people to go back into their homes and were sort of packing up tents a week before the earthquake hit?
MS. GUARNIERI: You know, a couple people said that they have been encouraged to go back to their home. I don't think that was official policy. I mean, my understanding was that the Turkish government was going to try to provide prefab housing for people whose houses had been damaged and that they -- that when they realized that that wasn't going to happen before winter, then they have pretty much been encouraging people to stay in tents.
They've certainly been trying to winterize the tents. I mean, we had sent a bunch of liners that -- with our tents that couldn't be installed initially because it was too hot. And they've lined them all so they seem to be preparing to hunker down for the winter, so I don't know where that order was coming from.
Maybe it was asking people to go back to homes or buildings that they didn't think had structural problems. They've had structural engineers out there, looking at buildings and trying to determine which ones get the red X on them and which ones can, be re-inhabited -- a green check.
END 11:55 A.M. (L)