Turkey’s Red Crescent organization has been criticized by lawmakers

Tuesday | March 01, 2023

Turkey’s Red Crescent organization has been criticized by lawmakers and citizens after revelations that it sold tents to a charity instead of donating them to people in urgent need after the massive earthquake that claimed more than 44,000 lives earlier this month.

The Turkish Red Crescent sold 2,050 tents to the AHBAP charity organization for 46 million Turkish liras (about $2.4 million), according to both organizations, as people were pleading with the government for shelters to sleep in during the bitter cold in the immediate wake of the earthquake.

AHBAP, a renowned charity in the nation, claimed it was in critical need of tents but couldn’t locate any to provide to those in need, so decided to buy from the Red Crescent, also known as Kizilay in Turkey.

“Our friends met with a Kzlay subsidiary, Kzlay adr ve Tekstil A., at a meeting. The moment we learnt that there were 2,050 tents in stock, we signed the contract for them. The following morning, we shipped the 2,050 tents to the earthquake zone, according to a tweet from AHBAP.

“Because the earthquake struck 10 provinces and the level of devastation was extraordinary, the current inventories of all tent manufacturers in our nation were unable to address the complaints of our people. Tents that we could bring to the earthquake zone that morning were not available from the businesses we contacted at the time. At the very least, they were able to produce them within a week, according to AHBAP.

Kerem Knak, the president of The Red Crescent, said on Monday that he was unaware of the sale and that his staff had made the choice to sell the tents. He claimed that if he had known about the circumstance, he would have recommended giving them away.

Yet, Knk stated in a tweet from the previous day, on Sunday, “@Ahbap and @Red Crescent’s cooperation is moral, logical, and lawful. Anyone who asserts differently is either ignorant of the situation or malevolent.

AHBAP’s founder and musician Haluk Levent noted in a tweet on Monday that in addition to purchasing tents, his organization also bought “30,000 units of food from Kzlay Lojistik A.., which each would serve 3 meals for a family of 4 and does not expire for a year.”

“In total, we bought meals from five different vendors for 108 million Turkish Liras. We purchased 14 million of this from Kzlay Lojistik A.A. for about $742,000.,” Levent added.

On Monday, Knk also posted the following on his Twitter page: “PUBLIC DISCLOSURE. The Red Crescent Society does NOT sell the donations it receives; instead, it distributes them to individuals in need. The focus of the press is on the humanitarian aid-related activities of our businesses, which provide the Red Crescent with stable revenue.

In Turkey, the discoveries have drawn condemnation. The Red Crescent was condemned on Twitter by Ahmet Davutoglu, a former prime minister of Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, who wrote: “Red Crescent cannot sell tents while people are frantically waiting for tents on the street. Such tents ought to have been given away without charge to the locals. It’s known as losing your mind due to ignorance. Our country and our noble nation do not deserve this.”

Meral Akşener, the head of Turkey’s opposition IYI Party, continued, “With the power of money, you have condemned people to an understanding that leaves them alone and empties them. The Turkish Red Crescent was founded with the understanding “to protect the dignity of people and society with the power of goodness, to increase their resilience, and to work to relieve their suffering. Disgrace to you!

Following the earthquake, a wide range of people—citizens, journalists, and members of the opposition—accused the Turkish government of neglecting to provide tents and food to the affected areas and of lacking sufficient teams to conduct operations to rescue the survivors.

President Erdogan requested forgiveness during a news conference on Monday for the delays in aid and rescue efforts. “I sincerely apologize for not being able to complete the job we had planned for the first few days in Adyaman due to the weather and road conditions. Nobody should have any doubts about us taking the appropriate action since we are aware of everything, he said.

In response to criticism from engineers and architects, the Turkish government also declared this week that it will begin some rebuilding in earthquake zones. Murat Kurum, Turkey’s minister of the environment, urban development, and climate change, reported that 885 homes in the earthquake zone have started to undergo excavation.

The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) in Turkey issued a warning about potential future issues that could result from hurriedly constructing homes.

“Every project that will be implemented without making new geological investigations, updating the ground surveys, and preparing the city plans in accordance with the earthquake after the earthquake means carrying the current earthquake risk to the future and putting people’s lives at risk,” wrote Emin Koramaz, chairman of the TMMOB’s Board, in his BirGün column.

However, some social media users questioned the construction efforts, claiming that ongoing earthquakes in the area will weaken the foundations of the new structures.

The individuals who were impacted by the earthquake have been promised new homes, and President Erdogan, who will be running for office in the coming months, has stated that they will be finished in a year.

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