Turkish Red Crescent criticized for selling tents after quake

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The Turkish opposition and media on Sunday criticized the Red Crescent humanitarian group for selling rather than donating tents for those made homeless by the massive deadly quake this month.

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

The quake, which struck on February 6, killed more than 44,000 people in Turkey and thousands more perished in neighboring Syria.

“This is a scandal,” said Murat Agirel, the Cumhuriyet journalist who broke the story of 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,” he said.

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

“The Red Crescent's cooperation with Ahbap is moral, reasonable and ethical,” Kinik said.

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

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

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused those who criticize the Red Crescent of being “dishonest and vile”.

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

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

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