Turkish Red Crescent admits selling tents to charity Ahbap on 3rd day after quake

The Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) selling tents to AHBAP association on the 3rd day of major earthquakes has drawn ire on social media. People asked the Kızılay why they did not send tents to provinces immediately after the devastating quakes.

Duvar English

The Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) sold tents to the social assistance organization AHBAP for 46 million liras on the 3rd day of major earthquakes that shook Turkey’s southeast, Murat Ağırel from the daily Cumhuriyet reported on Feb. 25.

Ağırel said he asked the Kızılay what their tent capacity was and if they had sold any tents to AHBAP organization. 

Accordingly, the Kızılay replied “The Ahbap Association also decided to support the need for shelter in the region with the resources it obtained from its donors, and transferred the tents it obtained from Kızılay to the regions indicated by the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).”

“In summary, what I heard was true,” Ağırel said, indicating that the Kızılay sold 46 million liras worth of tents to AHBAP.

The reporting stirred a huge reaction as people asked the Kızılay why they did not send tents to provinces immediately after the devastating quakes. People also asked why they donated money to the Kızılay if the organization was going to sell the tents. 

The accommodation problems still continue in the third week of the Feb. 6 earthquakes in some districts and survivors demand more tents.

On Feb. 26, AHBAP confirmed the reporting, saying they bought 2050 tents from Kızılay.

The organization said in a statement that they contacted the Kızılay as other companies did not have enough tents since the quake affected 11 provinces in the region.

“Our friends contacted Kızılay Çadır ve Tekstil A.Ş, which is a subsidiary of Kızılay. We immediately signed the contract for 2050 tents,” the charity said.

Moreover, AHBAP’s head famous singer Haluk Levent said everything they do is “legal and correct,” adding “While everyone was freezing to death (in the quake zone), we couldn't have had the luxury of (questioning buying tents from the Kızılay).”

“The Kızılay officials told me, ‘Raw materials and fabrics are purchased with the money we get, then tents are produced again and distributed free of charge to the citizens’,” Levent added.

Kızılay head Kerem Kınık also confirmed the purchase, saying “the cooperation between the Kızılay and AHBAP is moral, rational, legal. Anyone who claims otherwise either does not understand the issue or is malicious.”

Kınık said the AHBAP purchased the tents “at the production cost,” and stated "Kızılay Çadır (subsidiary of Kızılay) transfers the revenues obtained from sales to Kızılay which produces tents and other humanitarian aid materials required for disasters, stores them and distributes them free of charge to our citizens in case of need."

“So far, AFAD has set up 337,727 tents in the disaster area and continues to set up an additional 100,000 tents. The Kızılay has delivered its own capacity of tents (54,070) to AFAD and continues production in its facilities without break. 1,350,908 citizens live in tents," Kınık added.

Replying to Kınık's "at the production cost" remarks, Ağırel said on Twitter that "Turkish Pharmacists Association bought 5 tents of 76 square meter from Kızılay for 800,000 liras in order to distribute medicine free of charge. So they bought one tent for 160,000 liras ($8,477). How much does this tent cost? Why didn't you give it free?"

Criticizing Kızılay's move, opposition Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener said "The Turkish Red Crescent was established with the understanding of 'to protect the dignity of people and society with the power of goodness, to increase their resilience and to work to relieve their suffering.' With the power of money, you left people alone. Shame on you!"

The Turkish government faces growing criticism over its failure to take timely action in the face of two earthquakes.

As of Feb. 26, some 44,374 people have yet lost their lives due to quakes in 11 provinces according to official figures, whereas 156,000 buildings either collapsed, are about to collapse or severely damaged.