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Turkish gov’t blocks earthquake aid supplied by opposition: claim

A pro-Kurdish political party is claiming that Turkey’s government is blocking aid supplied by municipalities under HDP control from reaching the victims of an earthquake.

According to the Birgun news portal, Turkey’s People’s Democratic Party (HDP) claimed in a statement released on Sunday that the Interior Ministry was hampering their efforts to deliver relief supplies to the eastern Elazig province.

A 6.8 magnitude quake hit the city of Elazig on 24 January that left at least 41 people dead, more than 1,600 injured, and caused extensive damage.

It gave rise to nation-wide mourning. People and institutions across the country were urged to help the city’s quake victims.

The municipality of Diyarbakır’s Ergani district, under the administration of elected mayors from HDP, dispatched two trucks of relief materials to aid the quake victims, but police did not allow the vehicles to reach the city, Evrensel news reported on Saturday.

Birgun quoted the co-mayor of Ergani district Meryem Yıldız who accompanied the trucks carrying relief materials as saying: “We were told any relief supplies provided other than by Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) and AFAD would not be allowed into the city. We offered to hand over our supplies to Kızılay and AFAD, but they declined it. This is a politically-motivated decision. We are trying to reach out to the region that has not yet been provided with any aid. We now have to go back.”

In its written statement HDP officials said the Governor Office of Elazig province called the headmen of Elazig’s villages and ordered them not to accept any aid materials given by non-governmental organizations.

“People of the region told our committees conducting observation in the city that the aid distribution activities are under the control of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s regional chairmen and they are doing favoritism when distributing the supplies. Our committees have identified that there are still dozens of villages and thousands of people who await humanitarian aid. The government must give up its policy of hindering aid efforts. This pain belongs to all of us. There can be no explanation for preventing aid, with some little political game, from reaching people in need”, the pro-Kurdish party declared in its statement.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, on Monday, denied HDP’s allegations and said they turned away the aid sent by Ergani municipality due to the municipality’s lack of coordination with AFAD officials.

AFAD’s chairman Mehmet Gulluoglu said late on Monday the death toll risen to 41, the Diken news portal reported. According to the latest figures released by authorities, more than 1600 were injured in the devastating earthquake.

Turkey has experienced many powerful quakes in the past as the country straddles multiple fault lines. A 7.4 earthquake hit Turkey’s northwest Izmit province in 1999, killing more than 17,000 people and displacing nearly half a million people.

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