NewsTurkey seizes earthquake survivors' homes for redevelopment

Turkey seizes earthquake survivors' homes for redevelopment

The Turkish government took over the houses of people who survived last year's earthquake.
The Turkish government took over the houses of people who survived last year's earthquake.
Images source: © Getty Images | Diego Cupolo

2:37 PM EDT, March 19, 2024

The Turkish government has seized the homes of individuals who survived the earthquake that struck the southeastern region of the country last year. Property owners were informed through text messages that the state had appropriated their property to establish "reserve construction areas."

The Turkish government took over the homes of earthquake survivors, reports Reuters agency. In October, property owners were notified via text messages that their ownership had been transferred to the State Treasury in accordance with an amendment to the spatial planning law.

A devastating earthquake hit southeastern Turkey in February 2023, claiming the lives of more than 53,000 people, Reuters reports. The Hatay region suffered the most severe losses. To date, hundreds of thousands of individuals reside in containers and tents, serving as their temporary shelters.

The government can proceed without owners' consent

Urbanization Minister Mehmet Ozhaseki stated in early February that the government requires the authority granted by the amendment to expedite the reconstruction of areas decimated by the earthquake. This amendment to the law enables the transformation of disaster-prone regions and allows officials to designate private properties as reserve construction areas without needing the owners' prior consent.

"The law infringes upon property rights"

After covering the construction costs, the government declared that those affected by the earthquake would be entitled to properties. However, they have not provided any details on the financial implications. Lawyer Orhan Ozen, from Samandag, informed Reuters that the law infringes upon property rights and lacks clarity on how owners will be safeguarded after their properties are transferred to the State Treasury.

In Hatay province, the Urban Transformation Directorate has designated over 494 acres of land as reserve areas. The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has promised 254,000 new homes in Hatay. However, only about 7,300 have been constructed so far. Ecevit Alkan, from the local bar association, estimates that nearly 50,000 people will be impacted by the property seizures.

Residents appeal to the courts

Some property owners affected by the seizures have taken legal action against the state. "We can rebuild our homes ourselves, and we don't need any money from the state," Yapar, a resident of Hatay province affected by this issue, told Reuters.

Source: Reuters Agency

Related content