Humanitarian aid packages sent from the majority-Kurdish city of Diyarbakır were not accepted in earthquake-struck Elazığ on orders of the Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has claimed.
HDP had sent an inspection committee to the disaster-struck region to determine what supplies were needed, and then sent trucks from the HDP-held Ergani municipality of Diyarbakır to the city. The boxes of tents, blankets and dry foods sent by the municipality were blocked by orders given by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on a television broadcast, the party said.
“[Soylu] gave directives on television that the aid packages be blocked off, ordering this to the local authorities. The Governor’s Office immediately followed through on this and arranged that aid packages not from the government be turned away,” the HDP noted in a tweet on Jan. 26.
Governor’s Office: Don’t accept aid packages unless they come from the government agency
The Elazığ Governor’s Office reportedly called the 60 villages in need of supplies that the HDP visited and instructed village leaders to not accept aid packages unless they were sent from Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).
HDP officials also claimed that the prevention of the delivery of humanitarian aid was a politically-motivated power move.
“The government, having failed to take preventative measures and having been short-sided at every turn, is prioritizing political calculations over the safety of the people by interfering with humanitarian aid,” the party said.
Soylu initially said he didn’t want to “enter such discussions” when asked about the claims, adding he would be pursuing legal action about certain social media posts.
The minister later commented on this issue to daily Hürriyet’s İsmail Saymaz, saying that the HDP-held Ergani municipality had not coordinated with AFAD, which is why their humanitarian aid was not accepted. “In a time of crisis, we have turned it [humanitarian aid] down due to health and security issues. Nevertheless, we have accepted the aid coming from the HDP-held Kars municipality because they had cooperated with AFAD,” Soylu reportedly told Saymaz.