Earthquake: Petition calls on UK Government to follow Ukrainian model and grant Turkish family visas

A petition has been launched to create a Turkish Family Scheme visa for people made homeless as a result of the devastating earthquake in Turkiye that has killed thousands and left many more displaced.

Çağla Derviş launched her online petition to the UK Government and Parliament within a few days of the disaster occurring, in response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding as millions of people are forced to sleep on the streets in towns and cities in southeast Turkiye and northwest Syria in freezing cold conditions after their homes were reduced to rubble or deemed too unstable to live in.

Taking the innovative Ukraine Family Scheme visa as a model, which allowed Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion to come to Britain and escape the war, Çağla’s petition calls for a similar scheme to be created for Turkish families impacted by the deadliest earthquake to hit the country in the past one hundred years.

In the early hours of 6 February, an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck Gaziantep.The earthquake was felt as far away as Georgia and Egypt. Less than ten hours later, a second powerful earthquake with a 7.5 magnitude hit the same region. As of 15 February, the death toll has risen to 40,000, with millions of people displaced.

The unprecedented scale of the disaster has left the Turkish authorities struggling to cope as they try to help alleviate the impact of the earthquake on an estimated 13.5 million people.

The UK is home to a half-a-million strong Turkish community. Many have families and friends in the earthquake zone, who they could house for a short time, helping to relieve the immense pressure on public services and humanitarian relief efforts.

Over 60,000 people have already signed Çağla’s petition, which guarantees a response from the government. Should the petition garner 100,000 signatures, Parliament will also hold a debate to discuss the issue.The full text of Çağla’s petition, titled “Create a Turkish Family Scheme visa for people homeless due to the earthquake”, reads:

I would like the Government to help and support people in Turkey, officially the Republic of Türkiye, who are homeless and have family in the UK to come to the UK, like the Ukraine Family Scheme visa.

There many Turkish people in the UK whose family are stuck homeless because of the earthquake and are worried about them. The Government should allow Turkish people living in the UK to bring their family members to the UK.

Click here if you are a British citizen or resident in the UK and would like to sign the online petition.

Main picture, top, of a woman with a baby, who are part of the 65 displaced people from the earthquake affected province of Hatay, Turkiye, as they arrive at Yenikapi Ferry Terminal in Istanbul, 15 Feb 2023. They will be relocated to family members or placed in temporary shelters. Photo © Nicholas Muller/SOPA Images/Shutterstock (13769474b)