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Cablegate: Turkey's Disaster Management Structure: Has It

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O.12958: N/A

Ref: ANKARA 497

1. (SBU) Summary: After the devastating 1999 Marmara
earthquake that occurred in Turkey, the World Bank required
the 2000 establishment of a Turkish Emergency Management
Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts. In
addition, the GOT investigated charges of fraud and abuse of
office in the Turkish Red Crescent Society's administration
during this period and replaced its leadership after several
of the administrators were indicted. Although Turkey's
disaster preparation has visibly improved since 1999, the
question remains of how the relevant agencies will work
together in another major disaster. End summary.


2. (U) Close to 96 percent of Turkey's landmass lies in an
earthquake zone, and 66 percent rests on active fault lines.
Annually, damage from earthquakes corresponds to seven
percent of GDP and reduces its development rate by one
percent. In August 1999, Turkey suffered a devastating 7.4
magnitude earthquake, resulting in the death of 17,000, the
destruction of 285,000 homes in Turkey's most populated and
developed Marmara region (near Istanbul), and more than 20
billion dollars worth of damage. In the aftermath of the
earthquake it became apparent that the GOT lacked an
acceptable emergency action plan and that the disaster
management system was poorly equipped to handle such events.

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3. (U) The World Bank's Marmara Earthquake Emergency
Reconstruction Project (MEER, 2000-2004) required the
establishment of the Turkish Emergency Management Agency
(TEMA) in June 2000 as a comprehensive emergency management
structure for the coordination and integration of disaster-
related activities. Under the GOT's current disaster plan,
however, several GOT agencies share responsibility in
response and recovery. When a disaster occurs, the governor
bears local responsibility and serves as chairman of the
local crisis center. Depending on the size of the emergency,
the governor may turn to TEMA for help. Whatever the size of
a disaster, TEMA is responsible for coordinating all
assistance. In addition, when a disaster is considered
nationwide, the Prime Minister may order the establishment
of a national crisis coordination council comprised of the
relevant agencies and ministries and directed by TEMA.

4. (SBU) Current TEMA Director General Hasan Ipek expressed
concern to econoff and Scientific Affairs Specialist that,
due to political infighting, his agency has not been given
the authority to fully realize its 2000 mandate. However,
although the GOT has yet to pass the emergency management
legislation needed to provide full authority to TEMA
(reftel), Ipek stated that his agency has been actively
working to restructure the local response networks, 70
percent of which is complete. In addition, according to
Ipek, TEMA administers drills at least once a year to test
the GOT's response capabilities.


5. (U) TEMA holds responsibility for the establishment of
and coordination between the local crisis management centers
and the government ministries, for overseeing the
preparation of mitigation and recovery plans by related
institutions, for coordinating the use of all land, marine
and air vehicles belonging to public and private bodies in
case of a disaster, and for coordinating the transfer of aid
materials. TEMA manages the coordination according to the
requests received from local administrations in the disaster
area and maintains a 24-hour functioning crisis call center.
The TEMA President reports to the Undersecretary of the
Prime Ministry, where responsibility for disaster
supervision currently falls to the Vice Prime Minister.
TEMA's purview includes natural and manmade occurrences,
large refugee movements, terrorism, economic crises,
epidemic illnesses and nuclear events.

6. (U) The GOT Ministry of Public Works and Resettlements
(MPWR) provides financial disaster assistance. When an event
occurs, the Ministry may make an initial allocation to the
local governor for immediate health and emergency needs in
the disaster area. After the situation is clarified (usually
within 7-10 days), funds are then allocated from the central
governmental budget. The MPWR's Disaster Affairs Directorate
General is responsible for mitigation, for minimizing the
results of a disaster and for reconstruction.

7. (U) The Turkish Armed Forces assist in search and rescue
activities. In addition the National Security Council,
comprised of Turkish military and civilian officials, is
working to develop cooperation between the military and
civil authorities in the pre-disaster period. MFA also has a
crisis management center that works with TEMA closely during
a disaster. MFA is the facilitator for international relief
efforts, and the Turkish Red Crescent Society (TRCS)
organizes the transportation and distribution of the relief
materials such as tents, blankets, clothes, and food. The
Ministry of Interior's Civil Defense Directorate General
provides security and coordination of search and rescue
activities during the emergency periods.


8. (SBU) Ozlem Demirel Cook, Disaster Education Officer at
the American Red Cross (ARC) office in Turkey, criticized
TEMA as an unsystematic organization lacking sufficient
staffing and authority to achieve its mandate. She added
that the ARC is also not satisfied with the administrative
capacity of the TRCS, which theoretically could assist
750,000 victims of a disaster.

9. (SBU) Cook recounted the scandal surrounding TRCS's
administration during the 1999 earthquake and mentioned that
inspectors from the Prime Ministry and the Ministry of
Interior prepared 202 inspection reports on this subject,
half of which became the basis for court cases. ARC ended
most of its projects with TRCS after fourteen
administrators, including former chairman Ertan Gonen, faced
charges of irregularities in public tenders and abuse of
office. Current chairman Talat Yilmaz and the new board were
appointed by the government and were elected as the new
administration by the TRCS General Convention after these
allegations came to light. However, the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
has not yet recognized Yilmaz because it considers him a
political appointee.

10. (SBU) TRCS opened an Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
in Ankara after the 1999 earthquake. The EOC was designed by
using the American Red Cross Disaster Operations Center
(DOC) in Falls Church, Virginia as a prototype, and it is
the coordination center for TRCS nation-wide emergency
planning, preparedness and response activities. With its
newly established regional logistics centers, tent-making
factory, updated logistics maps, uninterrupted communication
systems and blood donation medical centers, the EOC is
equipped to provide effective support in case of a
nationwide disaster. Recently, the GOT Ministry of Health
transferred blood collection responsibilities to TRCS. As
with TEMA, the EOC conducts regular disaster preparedness


11. (SBU) Comment: While both the GOT and TRCS have made
visible improvements in Turkey's disaster response
capabilities, the question still remains of how everyone
will work together in a crisis. With other GOT ministries
unwilling to relinquish control of some of the
responsibilities (and budget) related to disaster
management, TEMA must at times work on faith that the
resources will be available and the chain of command in
place to respond quickly during a major disaster. End


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