Turkish Red Crescent repurposes wagon factory to make emergency shelters

A Syrian child plays in Greek refugee camp of prefabricated houses on May 25, 2017. (AP Photo)

A wagon repair plant abandoned before it was ever used is finding its purpose 30 years later, to produce disaster relief shelters through a project of the Turkish Red Crescent.

The factory, located in Turkey's eastern Malatya province, has sat idle since its completion in 1989. Investing $20 million in the project, the Turkish Red Crescent plans to repurpose the facility as a "Disaster Welfare Systems Factory" to supply its own projects and other organizations around the world.

"We are thinking of making the plant the largest disaster shelter system factory in the world," Turkish Red Crescent Malatya Branch President Umut Yalçın told Anadolu Agency.

"The prefabricated structures will be offered for the use of Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations and other international organizations such as the U.N."

While tent shelters are still widely used in many displacement and disaster settings, Yalçın says container shelters provide greater protection and longevity and can serve multiple purposes.

"We plan to make disaster shelter centers with more modern, safe and permanent containers instead of tents. We will have different kinds of buildings such as places of worship and classrooms," he said, adding that the project would "not serve only a single purpose."

The factory will also raise funds for the organization, as shelters will be purchased and shipped from the factory in Malatya. Turkish Red Crescent expects 500,000 workers will be employed at the factory benefiting the local economy as well, Yalçın added.

Turkish Red Crescent is Turkey's largest humanitarian organization and is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The nonprofit provides aid in disaster situations around the world and has met needs for emergency shelter from Bangladesh to Gaza.

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