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'Turkish Town' to rise in devastated Pakistan

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News | 10/29/2010 12:00:00 AM | SERKAN DEMİRTAŞ

The plight of flood-hit Pakistan has drawn a deluge of aid donations from Turkish citizens that will be used to construct a new 'Turkish Town' for displaced residents.

The plight of flood-hit Pakistan has drawn a deluge of aid donations from Turkish citizens, money that will be used to construct a new residential area for displaced people called “Turkish Town.”

“The collected money will not be handed out to Pakistan as cash. Instead we will build a purely new town there that will also include social units such as hospitals and schools,” Mustafa Aydoğdu, a spokesman for the Turkish Directorate General for Disaster and Emergency Management, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

More than 194 million Turkish Liras have been collected through aid campaigns launched by the Prime Ministry, the Religious Affairs Directorate and the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, or TRT, the emergency directorate said in a statement Tuesday. Turkey also donated $10 million in state aid to Pakistan immediately after the flooding began in July.

The United Nations launched a worldwide campaign to help Pakistan, but donations lagged compared to the international response to other natural disasters. The strong Turkish support has been attributed to the feeling of brotherhood between the two countries and Turkey’s own experience in 1999 with a devastating earthquake that killed nearly 30,000 people.

“The humanitarian assistance provided by Turkey in the wake of the recent devastating floods in Pakistan is unparalleled,” Pakistani Ambassador to Turkey Tariq Azizuddin told the Daily News on Thursday, singling out the personal efforts made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to ensure the success of the aid campaigns. “The strong commitment shown by the Turkish government in the post-flood reconstruction phase in affected areas is very much welcomed by Pakistan.”

[HH] Lasting testimonies

The Turkish government previously built a town in Pakistan in 2005, after the South Asian country was hit by a powerful earthquake. When the aid-collecting campaign ends in approximately two weeks time, the Turkish and Pakistani governments are expected to sign a protocol allowing the Turkish International Development Agency, or TİKA, to start work on the new town-building project.

Pakistan can benefit from Turkish expertise in the infrastructure and housing sectors, Ambassador Azizuddin said. “I believe that the ‘Mevlana houses’ and the field hospitals established by Turkey can serve as effective prototypes for large-scale housing and health projects in addition to serving as lasting testimonies to our fraternal relations,” he said.

A “Mevlana house,” according to the Anatolia news agency, is a large tent that can provide long-term shelter for a family of four.

Floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains this summer scoured Pakistan’s Indus river basin, an area larger than Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg combined, killing thousands of people, forcing millions from their homes and disrupting the lives of some 20 million people.

[HH] Doğan Group deserves special praise

Speaking about the role of various groups, including the Turkish Red Crescent, in providing humanitarian aid to Pakistan, Ambassador Azizuddin said the “indefatigable efforts of the Hürriyet Daily News and the Doğan Group deserve special praise.”

He added that “what stands out as the shining glory of the fundraising campaign” launched under Erdoğan’s personal directive is “the sublime empathy of our Turkish brothers and sisters, many of whom contributed beyond their means to the flood-relief effort.”

According to a United Nations fact sheet, a total of $1,668,995,416 in aid has been collected globally, both as state donations and private charity from individuals and organizations. Of this total, $292,307,162 has been contributed by individuals and organizations, a figure that does not include the money collected in Turkey because it will not be given to Pakistan as cash donations.

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