Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbaş said: “Everyone must do what they can to ease the humanitarian plight in Aleppo."
More than 220 trucks carrying food and clothes for displaced Syrians hit the road from Istanbul on Friday as part of an aid campaign by the local branch of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). The Prime Minister's wife Semiha Yıldırım and Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya were among the dignitaries attending a ceremony for the occasion.
Speaking at the ceremony, Semiha Yıldırım said that the convoy did not merely carry humanitarian aid but was also a sign of brotherhood and sisterhood between displaced Syrians and the Turkish nation, a relationship entrenched in history, referring to the former Ottoman rule in Syria. Yıldırım said the convoy would be the first of many to come. She also pointed out that the Turkish Red Crescent, which contributed to the aid convoy, already delivers about 20 trucks of humanitarian aid every month to Syrian war victims. She noted that the humanitarian aid was possible thanks to contributions from the Turkish public who "sold their wedding rings to donate to the aid campaigns."
Turkey has stepped up its aid to displaced Syrians after forces loyal to Bashar Assad gained the upper hand in their conflict with the rebels in Aleppo forcing civilians to leave. In early December, a foundation linked to Turkey's state-run religious authority launched a nationwide aid campaign, while other NGOs managed oversees campaigns to send humanitarian aid to Aleppo's displaced who were evacuated to safer areas in conflict-ridden Syria.
The country, which already hosts a huge number of Syrian refugees fleeing the five-year-long brutal conflict, is among the major donors for the welfare of the displaced Syrian population and it repeatedly urges the international community to spend more to address the needs of the millions of refugees in the country.