Response to National and International Disasters and Coordination Between Organizations

İhsan Açık
Türkiye Diyanet Foundation Board of Trustees II. President

There are many different man-made and natural disasters that occur around the world, including earthquakes, landslides, extreme snow conditions, fires, explosions, civil war, and hunger, which result in different vulnerabilities. Whether it be financial or psychological, the catastrophe caused by these disasters require a quick response by relevant parties to ensure aid reaches the affected populations. 

Türkiye has taken on the mission and responsibility of healing the wounds of those in need and who have been affected by disasters both within its own borders and those in other countries by ensuring a quick response as soon as a disaster strikes. This mission is one of the most important legacies inherited by our ancestors. In fact, what makes us as a country, and what differentiates us from others is that our sense of helping and solidarity is always at a high level. This is emphasized by the fact that Türkiye constantly makes it as the top country in statistics provided by international organizations that display the amount of money countries spend on humanitarian assistance in relation to their GNP. Türkiye has always led in this regard and will continue to do so. In addition to the generosity of the Turkish people, this, without a doubt, is a result of the trust the general public have in their government and NGOs.  

The Türkiye Diyanet Foundation is one of the most important actors in Türkiye’s humanitarian aid chain. The in-kind and cash aid donated by the Turkish people to the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation is delivered to those in need in line with the criteria determined. Currently, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation provides various assistance ranging from social activities to food and shelter. The Foundation works in coordination with non-governmental organizations and public institutions in order to respond quickly and accurately to disasters both in Türkiye and in other countries. 

When a disaster erupts, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation deploys personnel from its headquarters and local offices to the disaster zone. The needs of the people affected are assessed and aid is delivered accordingly. As was seen in the wildfires that occurred in Türkiye, coordination and communication are as important as delivering aid in the disaster zones. It can be observed that the coordination between the different organizations responding to the crisis is increasingly important in order to ensure that aid is delivered effectively and accurately to those in need. 

The Türkiye Diyanet Foundation places great importance on coordinating with national and international organizations and is open to any form of partnership that will result in alleviating the suffering of people in need. In coordination with the Turkish Red Crescent, which is the main solution partner for Nutrition in Türkiye’s Disaster Response Plan (TAMP), the Diyanet Foundation provides hot meals with its mobile kitchen during disasters. We place great importance on such coordination in the field.

With the ambition to reach to all those who have been affected by disasters, just like in the past when the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation responded to the earthquakes and floods in Elazığ, Bingöl, İzmir and Giresün, the Foundation also responded to the forest fires in Muğla and Antalya, and the floods in Artvin, Sinop, Rize, Kastamonu and Bartın. Within this scope, the mobile kitchen that was directed to Manavgat provided hot meals for 20,000 people, including those affected by the disasters and responders from different organizations. In addition, support was provided for the distribution of other humanitarian goods in order for life to return to normal as soon as possible. 

In addition to supporting the fire fighting and cooling efforts with its personnel and volunteers in Muğla, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation did not leave the local people alone in terms of humanitarian assistance. Food, clothes, gloves, fire extinguishers, and other non-food items were distributed to the local people and financial assistance was provided to 3,500 people.

Following the floods that occurred in Artvin, Sinop, Rize, Kastamonu and Bartın, personnel were deployed from the headquarters to the areas and along with the support of volunteers, financial aid was delivered to 3,000 people. Working in cooperation with other organizations on the field, including AFAD, the Turkish Red Crescent and security forces, hot meals were prepared for 60,000 people with the use of the mobile kitchen for 36 days. 

In addition to the humanitarian assistance activities responding to disaster and crisis areas, assistance was also delivered to people in need during Ramadan and Eid-al-Adha during the COVID-19 pandemic that shook the world. Water wells, Ramadan and Qurban assistance, and shelter have been some of the projects that are still continuing abroad to help the very needy. Specifically, during the pandemic, religious officials were assisted, any specific gardening requirements were met, elderly people were supported by ensuring they were able to withdraw their retirement pensions, medication was provided for people with health conditions, and food needs were met. Assistance was provided in any field where it was required and these activities are still continuing today in some scope. 

With the ‘One Drop Life’ (Bir Damla Hayat) project, the Foundation has opened water wells ranging from 50-500 metres in depth that can be used for both agricultural purposes and individual needs, providing clean water for people in need. In 2021 alone, 320 water wells across 21 countries and in total since 2015, 760 water wells across 35 countries have been provided for people in disaster and crisis areas, giving them access to clean water.

With its ‘Don’t Forget Your Brother’ (Kardeşini Unutma Beklenen Sensin) qurban theme, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation provided over 25 million people, in all provinces across Türkiye and in 339 regions in 77 countries, with qurban assistance.

The Türkiye Diyanet Foundation has stood alongside Syrian people affected from the crisis in the country and has provided assistance during their migration journey. This assistance ranges from non-food items to shelter, and providing assistance for orphans and educational needs. With its 1,003 local branches, the Foundation has provided assistance with 2,780 lorries, carrying all types of aid ranging from non-food items to shelter needs, food, home furniture and hygiene packets. All this aid has been delivered to families affected by the war. In addition to this, continuous educational support is provided to the students in the area. Trying to maintain a life in tents and living in mud, with the objective of providing families a warm home, within the ‘Goodness Homes Project’ (İyilik Konutları Projesi) 5,214 homes were built for families in the Idlib and Euphrates Shield zones. 

Hot meals were provided to 4.7 mıllıon people, 42 million packets of bread, 215,529 clothing assistance, 4,760 students were provided with educational opportunities, in the last four years 2,731 religious authorities were provided with financial assistance and 15,900 majlis students were provided with financial assistance in the Idlib, Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch and Peace Spring Areas. 7 water wells with a depth of 500 meters have been opened in the area in the last 7 years and with a tank of 40 tons, clean water is provided to the families in need. 

The Türkiye Diyanet Foundation has always stood in solidarity with the Rohingya people who fled to Bangladesh. In 2021, the Foundation built 2,750 bamboo homes for Rohingya refugees in the Cox’s Bazar camps, providing people in need with better shelter facilities. Up until now, the Foundation has provided 41 million TL worth of humanitarian aid to this crisis. 

In addition to the Ramadan and Qurban aid provided in Palestine, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation has provided 70,000USD worth of financial aid to families who lost loved ones after attacks by the Israeli forces. With the latest attacks on the people in Gaza, the Foundation has provided home packages for people whose houses were ruined, home furniture, support in restoring damaged houses, an ambulance to be used in times of medical assistance, patient beds, wheelchairs and medical assistance. In 2021, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation provided humanitarian aid worth 422,000 USD to Palestine.

In addition to the information provided above, following the disasters and crises that erupted, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation has been operating in Yemen, Indonesia, Sudan and Lebanon. Humanitarian assistance continues to be provided to people in need in these areas.

In relation to education, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation provides 27 education projects in 12 countries, and provides thousands of scholarships for students at home and abroad. Within the framework of our international scholarships and education programs, 2,826 students from 111 countries are brought to Türkiye, where they receive scholarships and support within the ‘International Imam Hatip, International Student, International Theology and International Other Educational Support and Scholarship Programs.’ 

With the aim of conveying the helping hand of the Turkish people to people in need in all these fields of activities that have been discussed, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundation strives to continue its humanitarian work with the theme ‘Until Goodness Dominates the World.’ 

In conclusion, the Türkiye Diyanet Foundations operations in coordination with national and international non-governmental organizations and public organizations during its activities in Türkiye and abroad. With disasters, crises regions, civil war, poverty, hunger and famine increasing across the globe, organizational coordination and communication is gaining increasing importance. The more we increase coordination and cooperation between organizations, the more organized and effective our humanitarian assistance activities will be.

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