Turkey launches aid campaign for Syrians

Turkey launches aid campaign for Syrians

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey launches aid campaign for Syrians

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ataly says that the aid campaign did not have a political dimension, but rather they acted with a humanitarian motivation. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Turkey has started an international campaign, “Kış Geldi, Suriye İçin Bir Ekmek, Bir Battaniye” (Winter Came, Bread and a Blanket for Syria), to aid the Syrian people with the support of the Prime Ministry. The international campaign is set to start in Bosnia and Herzegovina during early January and expected to spread to the world.

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate Mehmet Görmez, who attended a meeting introducing the campaign at Istanbul’s Haliç Congress Center yesterday, both donated their January salaries to the account opened in the name of the Prime Ministry for the Syrians. Görmez declared today’s Friday prayer as a “Friday to aid Syria.”

Atalay said this aid did not have a political dimension, but rather they acted with a humanitarian motivation. “This aid is not for our Syrian brothers who sought asylum in Turkey. The campaign mainly targets the deprived people of Syria,” Atalay said. “Research is being conducted with regards to their needs; first of all, when the shortages of water and electricity are considered, mobile bakeries may be built in order to convey the help directly to them,” Atalay said.

Görmez said the campaign made him feel pain and sorrow. “Due to the ambition for political power, the Syrian people, who are our relatives and neighbors, are being victimized. We lived together with Syrians for six centuries. Syria is a proud and honorable community,” Görmez said.

Görmez also called on the whole Muslim world to support this campaign. “The tragedy in Syria belongs not only to Muslims; it is a common tragedy of humanity.”

No time to wait for political discusssions

Turkish Red Crescent head Ahmet Lütfü Akar, Turkish Volunteer Organizations (TGTV) head Hamza Akbulut and representatives of many nongovernmental organizations and unions were also present at the event.

Akbulut said they would transfer the aid regardless of ethnicity, language, religion and race. “We will convey the aid to [the people in Syria] including Arabs, Armenians, Syriacs, Sunnis and Alevis. Syria ran out of staple food. The United Nations, European Union and Arab League are making various calls, but the Syrian people do not have enough time to wait for political discussions,” Akbulut said, adding that the campaign did not have any political motivation.

Also, a circular concerning the campaign was published in the Official Gazette and went into force as of yesterday.

“The Republic of Turkey, with a feeling of cooperation and solidarity and in line with our people’s expectations, will provide all kinds of support to Syrian refugees who are in need and victimized. With this aim, an aid campaign has been launched under the coordination of Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and with the participation of humanitarian assistance organizations, foundations, associations, professional organizations, media organizations and civil society organizations,” the circular said, expressing “full confidence” that the campaign would draw “volunteer” support from all segments of the society.

According to the circular, aid collected by public institutions will be transferred to bank accounts opened for this campaign. Likewise, civil society organizations will also use these bank accounts to transfer the aid that they have collected. A website, www.suriyeicinbirekmek.com, has been created to publish the details of the campaign.