Turkey sends medical aid to Chad to fight COVID-19

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Medical aid destined for Chad sits beside a military cargo plane at Etimesgut airport in Ankara, Turkey, May 26, 2020. (AA Photo)
Medical aid destined for Chad sits beside a military cargo plane at Etimesgut airport in Ankara, Turkey, May 26, 2020. (AA Photo)

 ATurkish plane carrying medical supplies departed from the capital Ankara for Chad on Tuesday in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The boxes containing the aid carried a message for the people of Chad.

“There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness,” it said, quoting the words of 13th-century Sufi philosopher Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi.

Turkey has sent medical aid to at least 80 countries as part of its contribution to the global solidarity efforts against the coronavirus pandemic, Vice President Fuat Oktay said last week.

He said two-thirds of the countries in the world, or close to 70%, had requested assistance from Turkey.

The main demand from these countries was for face masks, gloves and respirators, Oktay said.

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.

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 nonsterilized pieces of equipment.

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.

Turkey has a long tradition of sending humanitarian aid to countries facing difficulties, even to those with whom it has tense diplomatic relations. For instance, 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 the Far East. Similarly, in 1941, Turkey sent medicine to the Greek army upon the request of Greece, a country that fought against Turkey during the liberation war. Similar aid has been provided to many other countries over the years, including Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 188 countries and regions. Europe and the U.S. are currently the worst-hit areas.

The pandemic has killed more than 346,300 people worldwide with nearly 5.5 million confirmed cases, while recoveries have surpassed 2.23 million.

Erdoğan’s COVID-19 diplomacy

Meanwhile, the presidents of Turkey and Tunisia discussed cooperation between their two countries against the novel coronavirus in a phone call Monday, according to an official statement.

Turkey’s Communications Directorate said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied also discussed bilateral relations and regional issues.

The leaders also exchanged greetings for Ramadan Bayram, also known as Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, it added.

On Monday, Erdoğan also held phone calls with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Erdoğan offered condolences to Khan over a plane crash Friday in the southern port city of Karachi and reiterated Turkey’s strong support for Pakistan.

The two leaders also agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement added.

Briefing the Turkish president on the steps taken to control the spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan, Khan thanked Ankara for providing valuable medical equipment that was “reflective of historic linkages between the two countries to help each other in times of need.”

Through special cargo flights with Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines, Ankara sent two shipments of medical aid including tens of thousands of surgical masks and protective suits to Pakistan.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan briefed President Erdoğan on the worsening human rights situation in IOJ&K (Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir) accentuated by double lockdown and intensified military crackdown,” the statement said.

Khan also apprised Erdoğan of “the demonization of Muslims in India in the context of COVID-19, which should be rejected by the international community.”

In the phone call with the Kazakh president, Erdoğan and Tokayev discussed cooperation against the novel coronavirus as well as bilateral ties and regional issues, according to an official statement.