Ayberk Yurtsever,Turkish Red Crescent, in Ankara
The Turkish Red Crescent Society, or Kizilay, has dispatched humanitarian aid to Palestinians in order to assist the victims of recent violence in the Middle East and set up two temporary shelters on its southern coastline to host those fleeing from the fighting in Lebanon.
A convoy of 35 vehicles, carrying 630 tonnes of flour- the first part of a total of 10,000 tonnes to be sent, departed from Kizilay’s Disaster Operations Center last week. The Palestinian Red Crescent will distribute this humanitarian assistance to those in need. Kizilay mobilized a second convoy, made up of 49 vehicles carrying 870 tonnes of flour this week, shortly after the arrival of its first convoy to Ramallah.
In a speech delivered during the ceremony organized to mark the departure of the first convoy of humanitarian aid, Kizilay President Tekin Kucukali said: “For an area that is surrounded by a circle of fire, we are mobilizing the largest humanitarian assistance convoy in our history. I hope humanity will reach peace and security as soon as possible,” he added. The ceremony was also attended by the deputy Prime Minister, several other ministers from the Turkish government and the representative of the ICRC office in Turkey.
Simultaneously, the Turkish Red Crescent opened two temporary shelters in its southern provinces of Adana and Hatay in order to help its own people as well as citizens of third countries, fleeing the fighting in Lebanon.
An estimated 1200 Canadians, who arrived at Mersin Port by boat on July 20, were welcomed by some 50 Kizilay workers and volunteers. Placards that read “You are not alone” as well as red and white carnations greeted the evacuees, who were later taken by bus to a nearby sports hall, transformed into a temporary shelter for them in the province of Adana.
Those who left homes behind were sad. Doris Haddad-Bejjani, who is married to a Lebanese, said she was very touched when she saw the welcoming placards. With tears in her eyes, she said: “I love the Turkish Red Crescent and Turkey very much.”
President Kucukali underlined the efforts of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to bring an end to the pain in the region and said Kizilay was prepared to meet the needs of evacuees until they go back to their homeland.
Kizilay workers and volunteers distributed food packages containing bottled water, fruit juice, biscuits, chocolates, cakes and provided health services to evacuees. Some 400 blankets, 1,080 mattresses, 100 sleeping bags, 300 pillows and 80 bed sheets were made available for them at the shelters, which also have shower facilities.
A total of 8,882 people from 31 countries, fleeing the fighting in Lebanon, have arrived in Turkey since from July 19. Among them, Australians, Americans, French and Turkish people were the largest groups.
The Turkish Red Crescent also sent two truckloads of relief goods to Lebanon on 25 July 25 to support to Lebanese Red Cross humanitarian activities. Baby food, biscuits, jam, kitchen utensils, hygiene articles and medical supplies were among the relief items dispatched.