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Turkey provides medical aid to 53 countries to struggle pandemic

Daily Sabah TÜRKIYE
Published April 24,2020
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Turkey continues to fight against the coronavirus pandemic both within and outside the country by responding to the aid requests of 53 countries so far and sending medial supplies to defeat the virus.

Receiving aid requests from more than 100 countries, Ankara has provided assistance to all corners of the globe, from Somalia to Italy.

Turkey, as a country that has made a name for itself in the last decade with its humanitarian efforts, has already become a prominent figure of this fresh statecraft by sending medical aid packages to many corners of the globe every other day.

"So far, we have delivered medical equipment to 34 countries," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week during a news conference following a Cabinet meeting in Istanbul. "We will continue our support (to other countries) in the upcoming days as well," he said. Since then, the numbers escalated to 53 as the demands continues.

The first aid kits were delivered to China on Jan. 31, with protective overalls, 93,500 medical masks, 500 medical protective glasses and 10,000 non-sterilized pieces of equipment.

China was followed by Turkey's neighbor, Bulgaria, where 50,000 masks, 100,000 protective overalls and 100,000 protective glasses were delivered. Then, TL 72 million ($10.3 million) of financial aid along with thousands of units of medical equipment were sent to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Iran, one of the countries hit hardest by the virus, received 10,000 diagnosis kits, 4,715 overalls, 20,000 aprons, 2000 glasses, 4000 N95 masks and 73,000 three-layered masks. To Iraq, 30,000 masks were sent along with 475 food packages and disinfectants. Lebanon also received food aid with deliveries being distributed to more than 600 families in the poorest parts of the capital city, Beirut.

Turkey's aid packages mostly include medical masks, protective overalls, and gloves as well as disinfectants. All equipment was produced at military-owned factories and at sewing workshops that produce military uniforms and other clothing for the army.

Europe also received large medical aid packages from Turkey. Italy and Spain, two of the worst-hit countries on the continent, received packages on April 1. The U.K. and Ireland became other nations that accepted Turkey's aid deliveries. Multiple shipments have been sent to the U.K. over the past few weeks with the latest taking place a couple of days ago. Ankara helped to fulfill the protective overall needs of the virus-hit country. Ireland also received packages of aid filled with protective kits. Both nations expressed great gratitude to Turkey, with Ireland recalling the humanitarian aid the Ottoman Empire delivered 173 years ago, referring to Turkey's tradition of assistance.

Turkey has a long tradition of sending humanitarian aid to countries facing difficulties, even for those it has tense diplomatic relations with. For instance, back in 1938, only a decade after the country's foundation following a bloody war, Turkey sent medicine to China amid the outbreak of cholera in far-east Asia. Similarly, in 1941, Turkey sent medicine to the Greek army upon demand from Greece, a country that fought against Turkey during the liberation war. Similar aid has been provided to many other countries over the years, including Etiopia, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

On April 8, several Balkan countries, including North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, received a cargo plane full of diagnosis kits, masks and overalls. Albania, on the other hand, received six ambulances.

Africa has also not been left alone, as several of the continent's countries received medical aid. On April 9, 400 hygiene packages were delivered to Guinea, while Somalia accepted its aid on April 17. Lesotho was another African country that received Turkish supplies.

Palestine, which is under siege by Israel, and Colombia also received humanitarian aid from Turkey on Wednesday.

In some countries, such as Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Uganda and Hungary, Turkey started to produce masks with local resources instead of sending aid.

Two of Turkey's major allies, the U.S. and Russia, however, received aid indirectly. During a period when no countries sold medical products, Turkey allowed its private firms to export to these states. Thanks to this privilege, both the U.S. and Russia received tens of thousands of diagnosis kits and masks.