The 28-wagon long train is carrying $4m worth relief supplies and is expected to reach Pakistan in 13 days crossing through Iran.
The cargo includes supplies of durable foodstuffs, pulses, baby formula, medications, medical equipment, cleaning materials, textile products, shoes, blankets, tents, construction materials and prefabricated houses.
Executives of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Pakistani consul general in Istanbul Yusuf Cuneyt, Turkish Republic Railways Executive Hasan Gedikli, and Mehmet Akif Bayramoğlu, general secretary of the Anatolian Businessmen Association (Askon), were present at the ceremony.
IHH President and other attendants held a press conference before the train left.
Aid with ship, train
Yıldırım recalled that the foundation has launched a campaign to deliver aid to Pakistan by land, air and sea, and informed that a 35-ton cargo plane would follow the aid train on Monday. He said that the foundation Gaza-named ship would set sail with 3000 tons of relief supplies once its repair and maintenance has completed at the Iskenderun port.
He also added that the foundation was planning to send another ship called Defne to Pakistan.
Speaking of Pakistan relief effort Yıldırım said: “A third team of aid workers has reached Pakistan and headed for affected areas. Another team is organizing aid effort from the capital city Islamabad. A soup kitchen has been set up here and each day 5000 people are given hot food. The foundation has provided 1000 families that fled to Islamabad with accommodation. The families sheltered at three schools by the Pakistani government are given regular food aid.
Pakistan needs more aid
We have begun distributing aid to areas cut off by floodwaters by helicopters. A group of 15 medical personnel is working in Punjab. A project to construct permanent shelters has been launched. Prefabricated houses are not suitable to extreme temperatures and humidity. It will take a long time for floodwaters to recede. We will be giving seeds and cattle to the families affected by flooding to live on.”
The IHH is planning to donate 30m Turkish liras to Pakistan, Yıldırım noted, saying: “We are expecting the people of Turkey to offer help in order to collect the forecast amount and raise it even further. Our citizens should show the same sensitivity for Pakistan they show when it comes to Palestine. Because we are facing a devastating disaster that is still raging on. Two thousand people were killed; one million houses were destroyed. Overall 30m people were affected. We will do our best to alleviate the suffering of our Pakistani brothers and sisters.”
Pakistani consul urges help
Pakistani consul Yusuf Cuneyt said: “This train is leaving just at the right time. The supplies carried by the train have vital significance to our people. Pakistani people are undergoing some of the hardest days in history. Almost 20 percent of Pakistan has been inundated. Epidemics are spreading. About 3.5m children are at the risk of epidemic diseases. Most of highways remain closed. Infrastructure has collapsed. Aircrafts and helicopters are the only way to access cut off areas.”
Pointing to the solidarity between Turkey and Pakistan Cuneyt said “I hope the people of Turkey will continue aiding Pakistan. We need your help.”
The cargo train was seen off with recital of prayers after speeches.
The IHH-led cargo train is supported by dozens of non-governmental organizations, including TGTV, MÜSİAD, ASKON and MEMURSEN.