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King Charles III

King Charles visits kebab shop as he meets members of Turkish & Syrian community following devastating earthquake

King Charles made a visit to two areas of London where efforts are being made to help the Turkish and Syrian people affected by the earthquake. 

On Tuesday, 14th February, His Majesty made two stops in London; the first was in Hounslow, where he visited a cultural centre that has been transformed into a station to collect, package and organise the logistics for delivering basic necessities to Turkey, like blankets, clothes and food. 

The centre has long been a meeting point for members of the Turkish community living in London, and, in these circumstances, they have collected more than 100 pallets of aid material, which has been shipped to the earthquake’s epicentre. 

During this visit, His Majesty was accompanied by the Turkish Ambassador to the UK, who said that the King told him that he was “deeply sorry, deeply sad, and he will pray for Turkey, for Syria and the people under that devastating earthquake”. 

The King was also seen sipping on some Turkish tea and visited at a takeaway Kebab shop that was open next to the collection point, jokingly asking the chef if he had any “secret ingredients” to attract customers.

The second stop of the day was Trafalgar Square, where King Charles officially launched Syria’s House, a temporary tent that will serve as a collection point for donations and support for members of the Syrian community. 

The space will serve both as a base camp for the collection of aid donations and as a meeting point for those members of the Syrian community in London that have lost loved ones in the earthquake. The facility will remain open until Friday, 17th February. 

In the tent, he was offered a cup of Syrian tea, and spoke to Mr Salah Al-Asmar, a Syrian architect based in the UK, who lost his parents, brother, sister in law and nephew in the earthquake.

He later told PA: “The King was showing his support and was saying ‘I can’t imagine how hard it has been for you’. He said ‘it is terrible’. I saw that he was emotionally affected”. 

In both occasions, His Majesty spoke with volunteers and members of the community, who are trying to come to terms with the loss of loved ones, but also with the terrible devastation that this earthquake has left behind. 

Buckingham Palace has also shared information about the DEC’s “Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal”, which has reached more that £60m, including a £5m donation from the Government. They also revealed that the King and Queen Consort have made a personal donation to the appeal. 

On Monday, 4th February 2023, at 4:17am local time, the East Anatolian fault’s grinding caused a 7.8 earthquake that flattened an area between Turkey and Syria. The tremor was felt as far away as Jordan, Lebanon and Israel, although the damage seems to have been limited to the area around the epicentre. 

Since then, entire countries have come together to assemble donations and aid packages, as well as teams of volunteers to help in aid provision in the area, both in caring for survivors, search and rescue operations and medical needs. 

And if the relief aid poured into Turkey, Syria is having a much tougher time gaining access to that, in light of the civil war that has been ravaging the country for the last decade. The only border crossing opened for international aid into the area has been damaged, further complicating even the UN’s ability to enter northwestern Syria.