This article contains elements that may be distressing.
In mid-March, we sent our Emergency Response Coordinator Mohammed Bashein to Türkiye.
He accompanied the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT), from the Institution of Structural Engineers, on a research trip to earthquake sites. Mohammed spent ten days with the team as they carried out their research into structural, infrastructural, geotechnic, and humanitarian work that is required.
For RedR UK, this was an opportunity to understand the situation on the ground first hand, to inform our ongoing response. “Humanitarians always talk about serving populations,” says Mohammed. “But if we only operate from siloes, ivory towers, and computer screens many miles away we won’t really know or understand.” Insights from the trip have been invaluable in informing our Learning Needs Assessment, freely available to all working in this context.
Coordination saves lives, and this trip has helped us make more connections. We’re looking forward to bridging the humanitarian and engineering sectors in the region to build a coordination group. We have good connections, for instance, with engineer syndicates in Syria, and we’re also part of the Shelter cluster. We can use our positionality to connect them.
We caught up with Mohammed on the experience. How can this trip inform ongoing conversations about capacity, power, and privilege? Here, Mohammed shares his reflections and insights.
What was it like to be on the ground?
“I’ve been to Türkiye many times before, and some of the culture and politics overlaps with Libya, where I’m from. My personal experience in Libya gave me some insight. In the 2019 conflict in Tripoli, my house burnt down, so I had a lot of empathy for how damage affects people’s lives first hand. In each storey of those damaged buildings, you can see a life.