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Turkish FM announces donation drive to help people affected by forest fires

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that a national donation drive will be launched by the Antalya Governor’s Office to help people in southern Antalya province, where wildfires ongoing since Wednesday have claimed the lives of three people and injured more than 100, local media reported on Friday.

According to the latest statement by Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli, fifty-seven fires out of a total of 71 that have erupted in 21 provinces since around noon on Wednesday have been brought under control, with cooling efforts underway.

Çavuşoğlu on Friday said in a press statement in Antalya’s Manavgat district, one of the regions most severely affected by the wildfires, that the Antalya Governor’s Office would soon open a bank account for donations and share the necessary information about it with the public.

“Those who want to donate in cash can contact our governor’s office. Our people are generous. They always do their best to provide the necessary support,” he added.

Stating that he received a call from Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), late on Thursday and was told that he wanted to donate TL 5,000,000 ($594,297) to help people in Antalya, Çavuşoğlu thanked all the citizens who are willing to make donations.

The minister underlined that fires had affected the infrastructure of the city in addition to forested areas. “Unfortunately, electricity is not available to approximately 18,000 households at the moment,” he added.

The national donation drive reminded many of the pandemic relief campaign previously launched by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to assist vulnerable people suffering due to coronavirus measures taken by the country.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been accused of a poor response to the forest fires, with many people criticizing Erdoğan’s inaction and the small number of firefighting planes.

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