Turkish government obstructs and confiscates humanitarian aid for earthquake victims

Statement by HDP’s Co-spokespersons for Foreign Affairs Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy, 16.02.2023

While people are experiencing unbearable pain due to the earthquakes that killed tens of thousands of people and left millions homeless, the government of Turkey has been ineffective in rescue missions and in responding to vital needs of people such as food and shelter. Overcoming its initial shock and panic, the government is now using emergency rule powers to cover up its failures by hindering or unlawfully taking over the collection and distribution of humanitarian aid organized by NGOs, political parties, or ordinary people across the country.

From the first day of the earthquake, NGOs, especially trade unions and community associations, political parties, and private citizens have mobilized to help earthquake victims in the ten affected provinces. The HDP has joined these efforts by organizing and delivering humanitarian aid and establishing crisis desks in all ten provinces. However, the government has been preventing us from distributing the aid to the victims by raiding our warehouses and confiscating the aid we have collected. Four trucks carrying aid sent by the HDP’s Crisis Coordination Center to the earthquake areas were confiscated and one truck was sent back. The government’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) in Adıyaman, a place that has suffered huge destruction, seized a truckload of tents sent to the victims by the HDP. The police seized another truck carrying aid from Izmir to Osmaniye and detained three people, including the driver. 85 stoves and a truck containing tons of wood and coal sent from Siirt and Batman to the Nurdağı district of Gaziantep were also seized by AFAD, and the aid we collected was emptied into AFAD warehouses in Gaziantep. And on February 15, the district governor, accompanied by the police and gendarmerie, appointed a government ‘trustee’ to take over the Crisis Coordination Center that we had established in Hasankoca village in Pazarcık, the epicenter of the first Kahramanmaraş. The Center was delivering humanitarian aid to the victims in the district and over one hundred villages around it. HDP’s volunteers in the town were forced to leave the town to avoid detention.

The government is destroying civilian networks of social solidarity and cooperation by abusing state of emergency powers. These confiscations seek to monopolize all humanitarian aid in the hands of the government and hide the government’s ineffectiveness in responding to the crisis.

We invite the international community to closely follow the government’s destruction of the networks of social solidarity and humanitarian aid when they are needed the most by the victims. Despite all obstructions of the government, the HDP will continue its efforts to provide urgent aid to the victims. 

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