Turkish Red Crescent criticized for selling tents after the quakes
As the death toll from the Turkey earthquakes has passed 40 thousand, Turkey's largest humanitarian organization, once again, became the target of criticism. Accordingly, the Red Crescent (Kizilay) sold 46 million TL (USD 2,44 million) worth of tents to a Turkish charity from its stocks on the third day of the disaster.
Cumhuriyet columnist Murat Ağırel wrote in his daily column that the Red Crescent, which is under heavy criticism for giving a late and insufficient response in the aftermath of the earthquake, sold tents from its stocks to the Turkish charity organization AHBAP, while thousands of people who lost their homes are desperately waiting for shelter.
Here are the highlights from Ağırel's article:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reacted sharply to criticism of the Red Crescent. But the truth cannot be covered by anger.
In the memory and history of Turkish society, the Red Crescent occupies a significant place independent of individuals. In every disaster, the Red Crescent is the first organization to call. In the recent earthquake disaster, people also searched for it, but it was not there.
As a journalist, I also traveled from Istanbul to the region hit by the earthquakes in the first hours. The Red Crescent was unfortunately absent like other institutions.
So why couldn't we see the Red Crescent and its tents, which send messages for help in every disaster and ask for help from citizens?
Let me answer this question: They sold tents to Ahbap (the Turkish NGO).
As you know, the Turkish Red Crescent, which has been transformed from an aid organization into a holding company, has tent and container production facilities.
According to the allegations, Kızılay sold tents worth 46 million TL (USD 2,44 million) to AHBAP on the third day of the earthquake. It was also claimed that it delivered the aid via Islamic foundations and associations.
I thought, "It can't be." "While people are struggling for their lives, the organization we have built just for these days cannot stock and sell its tents at such a time.
I called Red Crescent officials and asked the following questions:
- How many tents did the Red Crescent have on the 6th of February?
- How many tents did you distribute? Did you sell tents to the organization called Ahbap? If yes, how many and what was the number of sales? Did you sell tents to other organizations? If yes, to which foundations and associations? Did the Red Crescent provide food aid? If yes, how much and what is the amount?
- How many stocks were there in your tent and container factory? Where were these stocks also distributed?
In their reply, the following part about the AHBAP NGO drew my attention:
"Ahbap Association decided to support the need for shelter in the region with the resources provided by its donors. And at that point, the tents provided by the Red Crescent were dispatched by Ahbap to the points indicated by The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD). The Red Crescent evaluated this process to solve the sheltering needs of the disaster victims as soon as possible. In order to ensure the continuation of the tent production, we accepted the raw material cost."
So what I thought was correct. In summary, there were 40 thousand of tents in stock. Another 14 thousand came afterward. They gave a total of 54 thousand tents to AFAD. However, 46 million TL worth of tents were sold to AHBAP from the production facility.
Besides, the Turkish Red Crescent allowed Islamic organizations disguised as foundations and associations to use its stocks. These so-called organizations receive all their needs from the Red Crescent and AFAD, and collect money from the public, claiming they are sending aid.
Is there an organization to inspect all these operations? I don't think so. And there is still a shortage of tents in the earthquake zone.