Thousands in Turkey to open their homes to quake victims
ISTANBUL - Radikal
Rescue efforts to save the lives of victims have now given way to the sorting and distribution of aid materials to the survivors, nine days after the temblor first struck. AA photo
Government agencies have taken over a project, initially launched by a journalist on Twitter, to temporarily accomodate families left homeless by the deadly earthquake in Van in the homes of volunteer citizens.
“[The temblor] facilitated the liberation of fraternal sentiments that were suppressed in this country for 200 years due to [bad] policies. Fraternity is what sprang out of the faultline,” journalist Ahmet Tezcan said.
Some 17,000 people applied to host quake victims inside their own homes on the first day that an online campaign known as “My home is your home, Van” was set up for that purpose.
Starting Nov. 5, the Istanbul Governor’s Office will place 60 families in the homes of volunteers as part of the project.
“People from the east love to host guests, but shy away from being a guest and burdening others. For that reason, we primarily need people who will open their second homes, or their summer houses,” Tezcan said, adding that they were going to check the volunteers’ criminal records to avoid any potential abuses.
Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin said she was going to assume the task of orchestrating the project and that she had put Ömer Özcan, who served as a deputy governor in Van for seven years, in charge of the project’s coordination, Tezcan said.
The Education Ministry will also play its part in the initiative by helping to place the families’ children in schools as guest students.
The project organizers also contacted the governors’ offices in province other than Istanbul, Tezcan said, adding that southeastern cities like Batman and Bingöl were particularly important, as quake victims would feel more at home there due to fewer cultural differences between them and their hosts.
Rescue operations over
Meanwhile, frantic rescue efforts to save the lives of victims trapped underneath the rubble have finally given way to the sorting and distribution of aid materials to the survivors, nine days after the temblor first struck.
Some 150 trailer trucks are carrying materials each day into Van and the district of Erciş, the epicenter of the quake, according to the city’s deputy governor, Atay Uslu. More than 1,000 trailer trucks have already arrived in Van since the earthquake, according to estimates, but many trucks have formed long queues in some centers waiting to unload their cargo, daily Radikal reported.
Drivers from Ankara have also confirmed that aid materials had been waiting for three days inside the trucks.
“When they ask me, I tell them not to send any [aid materials] at the current moment... At least 150 trailer trucks arrive a day. If this lasts for 10 days, it would meet Van’s needs for three years,” Uslu said.
Some 400 people have been given the task of sorting through aid materials in the storage space used by the governor’s office. Staff members, however, said some of the aid materials donated by citizens include goods that are simply too old, worn-out or dirty for use, such as torn clothes.