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11.11.2013 18:15 News >> Turkey Rushes Aid To Philippines

Turkey Rushes Aid To Philippines

Turkey has sent around 65 tons of humanitarian aid to the Philippines, which is struggling to recover from being hit on Friday by Typhoon Haiyan, amid fears that the death toll could rise to over 10, 000.An Airbus cargo plane loaded with tents,...

Turkey has sent around 65 tons of humanitarian aid to the Philippines, which is struggling to recover from being hit on Friday by Typhoon Haiyan, amid fears that the death toll could rise to over 10, 000.

An Airbus cargo plane loaded with tents, blankets, kitchen utensils and other aid items provided by Turkish Red Crescent was sent to the Philippines through the coordination of the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD).

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and AFAD President Fuat Oktay left for the typhoon-stricken country on Sunday night to talk to Philippine officials and to see on the ground how Turkey could be of further help. "After determining what is needed on the spot, we will send further [relief] aid through AFAD and the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency [TİKA]," Atalay, accompanied by Oktay, said late on Sunday at a press conference he gave before leaving for the Philippines.

In the strongest typhoon on record that hit the country on Friday, thousands of people are feared dead. According to some officials, the number of casualties from Typhoon Haiyan may even surpass 10,000.

Turkish humanitarian aid organizations have also sent rescue teams to the Philippines. "A 10-member rescue team of ours has already reached the Philippines," Yusuf Yıldırım, who is in charge of foreign aid at Kimse Yok mu (Is Anybody There?), has told Today's Zaman. The humanitarian aid organization will also distribute 6,500 food packages to the victims.

"Our voluntary representatives in the Philippines will see to it that food packages are prepared in the capital Manila and are transported to the disaster area by army helicopters," Yıldırım stated. Based on the reports Kimse Yok mu will get from its team in the disaster area, the humanitarian organization may also launch an aid campaign for the Philippines.

According to Philippine officials, at least 2 million people in tens of provinces have been affected by the disaster and at least 23,000 houses have been ruined or damaged. In a country made up of thousands of islands, Typhoon Haiyan swept through a string of islands from east to west -- Samar, Leyte, Cebu and Panay. Around 800,000 people are believed to have fled their homes. In the devastating calamity, ships were thrown inland, vehicles were swept out to sea and bridges and ports were washed away.

Turkey may also send in rescue teams to the typhoon-stricken country if requested by the Philippines, Atalay confirmed, saying, "Our teams are ready to leave." A team which will deal with the distribution of relief materials in the Philippines also left with Atalay. President of Turkish Red Crescent Ahmet Lütfi Akar, who is currently with a team of officials from the organization in Australia, will also leave for the Philippines.

Noting that Turkey's ambassadors are busy coordinating Turkey's efforts with local officials, the deputy prime minister stated: "We would like to send these materials [to the typhoon-stricken area] as soon as possible. Within the bounds of our means, we are trying to reach out to troubled, disaster-stricken parts of the world as fast as possible." Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a telegram to President Benigno Aquino III, offering his condolences and pledging to deliver support and aid to the disaster-stricken country.

Philippines officials projected the death toll would climb even higher when emergency crews reach areas cut off by flooding and landslides. Even for the disaster-prone Philippines, which regularly contends with earthquakes, volcanoes and tropical cyclones, Typhoon Haiyan appears to be the deadliest natural disaster on record. Weather officials said Haiyan had sustained winds of 235 kph (147 mph) with gusts of 275 kph (170 mph) when it made landfall.

Another Turkish charity, Deniz Feneri (Lighthouse), is preparing to launch an aid campaign for the Philippines. The charity, which is currently working on determining a budget for sending relief to the South East Asian country, does not currently have representatives in the disaster area but has contacts on the ground to get information about the needs of the victims.

Cansuyu, an Ankara-based charity and solidarity organization, is waiting for a report by e-mail from its contact in the Philippines to decide how to help through an aid campaign. The İstanbul-based Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), also sent a rescue team composed of four people to the Philippines in addition to Ömer Kesmen, who is already based in the typhoon-stricken country. "Rice and water are two things which are most needed in the Philippines," Emrullah Öztürk, who is responsible for media relations at the İHH, told Today's Zaman. İHH's team in the South East Asian country has handed out food packages that contained food such as rice and sugar to the victims, who are struggling to survive in dire conditions, given that electricity and water supplies are hard to find in the disaster-stricken area.

Many survivors of the disaster have not only lost their loved ones, but also all they had. In addition to a lack of drinking water, food, medicine and shelter are scarce. Dead bodies left to rot in the fields or at the sides of roads, which is increasing the risk of disease.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman)



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