IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation Deputy Chairman Durmuş Aydın spoke to CNN International for a live program during which he talked about the foundation’s relief efforts for Syrians since the start of the public unrest in the country 18 months ago.
Aydın’s interview on CNN:
CNN: Syrian refugees are flocking to Turkish border. According to reports, there are 80,000 registered Syrian refugees in Turkey. This situation creates pressure on Ankara to make its stance harsher against Syrian administration. IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which is known as one of the organizers of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza organized several years ago, continues its relief efforts amidst the clashes. IHH Foreign Affairs Director Durmuş Aydın is in CNN’s İstanbul office at the moment. We offer our thanks to him for joining our program. What has the IHH done exactly for Syrian refugees and Syrian people who are victimized by the clashes?
Durmuş Aydın: Thank you. Since March 2011, as the IHH we have been taking emergency relief items such as food for adults and babies and medical services to the Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Since the beginning of the uprising, IHH is doing its best to help Syrian refugees in Turkey, Iraq and other countries. More than 80,000 Syrian refugees who are in Turkey now are in need of many things. In addition, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan is increasing day by day. IHH aid teams carry out relief efforts both in Turkey and Syrian cities such as Aleppo, Hama and Idlib. Our mobile clinics provide free medical services to the Syrian refugees.
CNN: Are you saying that IHH crossed the border and entered Syria?
Durmuş Aydın: Yes. We carry on relief efforts in Syria’s Aleppo, Hama and Idlib cities and Turkish provinces of Antakya, Gaziantep, Kilis and others. We are trying to do our best to help the Syrians, providing them with hot meals from mobile kitchens and medical services from mobile clinics.
CNN: If you let me, I want to ask this: Some people say all these have a political dimension. In 2010, you contributed to the organization of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, you sent Mavi Marmara ship to Gaza which led to the killing of some of your citizens. In addition, it is claimed that you are given a privileged treatment at the refugee camps by the Turkish government. Is this correct?
Durmuş Aydın: No. We are only engaged in humanitarian relief activities. We do the same for Gaza, Syrian refugees and people in need in Syria or in other countries. Nothing is in question other than this. There are speculations and manipulations related to other issues. However, as IHH, we are trying to do our best to take relief to the people in the refugee camps you mentioned and other cities. What is said beyond this is manipulation and they do not reflect the realities in the region.
CNN: So, you say it is out of question for your organization to provide anything other than relief to the refugees and others and opposite claims are not accurate?
Durmuş Aydın: As you know, the United Nations and other international organizations say that the situation of refugees deteriorates every day. The only thing we have done in the cities and countries since the start of the uprisings is providing relief such as food, tents and medical services etc.
CNN: Ok, what is the motivation at the moment which makes you help Syrians in particular? We have seen that some people in Turkey’s border regions do not welcome the Syrian refugees. What is your motivation?
Durmuş Aydın: The thing which motivates us nothing more than our being human. When there was a humanitarian crisis in Haiti, we were there as the IHH. When there was a humanitarian crisis in America, we were there, too. Now, we are doing the same on behalf of the humanity in the humanitarian crisis in Syria, Gaza and other regions of the world in order to show our support to people who are victimized by political crisis or natural disasters.
CNN: Dear Durmuş Aydın from IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, thanks for joining us from İstanbul,
Durmuş Aydın: Thanks.