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Turkish Red Crescent under fire for selling tents after earthquake

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The Turkish opposition and media on Sunday criticized the Red Crescent (Kızılay) humanitarian group for selling rather than donating tents for those made homeless by the massive deadly earthquake this month, Agence France-Presse reported.

According to the Cumhuriyet daily, the Turkish Red Crescent has sold 2,050 tents to the Foundation of Anatolian People and Peace Platform (AHBAP) relief organization for 46 million Turkish liras ($2.4 million).

The earthquake, 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 Ağırel, 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 Kınık confirmed on Twitter that Kızıkay Çadır, a subsidiary of his organization 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,” Kınık said.

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

“Shame on you,” Meral Akşener, chairwoman of the nationalist İYİ Party, said on Twitter.

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

In response, the leader of the main opposition party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, accused Erdoğan 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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