Turkish Red Crescent criticised for selling tents to quake charity

Turkish President accuses critics of Red Crescent of being 'dishonest and vile'

A makeshift camp in Antakya, southern Turkey, on February 22. AFP
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The Red Crescent humanitarian group came under fire from opposition parties and media on Sunday for selling rather than donating tents to those made homeless by the deadly quake this month.

The Turkish Red Crescent has sold 2,050 tents to the local Ahbap charity for 46 million Turkish lira ($2.4 million), the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet reported.

The February 6 earthquake killed more than 44,000 people in Turkey and thousands more in neighbouring Syria.

"This is a scandal," said Murat Agirel, the Cumhuriyet journalist who broke the story about the sale of aid tents.

"Turkey's largest charity, the Red Crescent, sold tents instead of distributing them for free to those in need when people were begging for them three days after the earthquake."

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Turkish Red Crescent head Kerem Kinik confirmed on Twitter that Kizilay Cadir, a subsidiary of his organisation in charge of producing the tents, provided them to Ahbap "at cost price".

"The Red Crescent's co-operation with Ahbap is moral, reasonable and ethical," Mr Kinik said.

But several opposition figures called for the resignation of the Red Crescent chairman.

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"Shame on you," Meral Aksener, chairwoman of the nationalist Iyi Party, said on Twitter.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused those who criticise the Red Crescent of being "dishonest and vile".

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In response, the leader of the main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, accused Mr Erdogan in a tweet of "insulting the earthquake victims".

The Turkish government was accused of failing to distribute sufficient tents, humanitarian aid and relief teams in several locations in the days after the earthquake.

Updated: February 26, 2023, 10:07 PM