By Faruk Zorlu and S. Ahmet Aytac
ANKARA (AA) - We are the most recognized nongovernmental organization in the world with almost 30 years of experience, Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) head Bulent Yildirim has said.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Yildirim said: “The IHH has become a trademark in the humanitarian aid field. We are well-known by both, governments and people across the world.”
The IHH is currently taking care of more than 90,000 orphans in 52 different countries apart from 75 cities of Turkey; 170,000 orphans benefited from Orphan Solidarity Days projects around the world in 2017.
The IHH opened the world's largest children’s living center in southeastern Hatay province of Reyhanli district last year. The center can accommodate nearly 1,000 children.
One of IHH`s main goal is to increase the number of refugee camps and schools, especially inside Syria.
“There is an increasing number of orphans in Syria and Iraq due to war. If these orphans don't receive education, they will be lost. That's why IHH is constructing universities and increasing the number of schools in 2018," he said.
He also spoke about the organization's role in opening prosthetic workshops.
“Additionally, Turkey’s largest prosthetic and orthosis workshop has been founded by us,” Yildirim said.
“We will continue to construct new prosthetic and orthosis workshops in various regions in Turkey and abroad in 2018.”
- Role in mediation
The IHH head also spoke about his organization’s role in finding the missing and kidnapped people from around the world.
“We have mediated in finding many missing and kidnapped people in the world. It includes people from Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, France, the U.S., Italy, Ukraine and Russia,” he said.
“The states who consider us as a dangerous organization also ask for our help in finding their missing citizens. Why they consider us dangerous? Because we do not make any discrimination.”
He clarified that the IHH does not discriminate on the basis of race or faith in its humanitarian work.
“Regardless of their faith or race, being oppressed is enough for us to help the needy.
“We go to Japan and Haiti. We don't try to convert them. We go there to just help. This vision and understanding is dangerous for some imperialist powers," he said.
“Conversely, imperial powers use aid agencies as an intelligence agency. Thus, these agencies act as a fifth column and gather information on society. Then, these imperialists start planning …occupation there.”
- Record cataract surgeries
Over the last decade, the IHH has also carried out some 100,000 cataract surgeries on needy patients in 14 African countries, among them Sudan, Ghana, Ethiopia, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Niger, Mozambique, and Somalia.
"We have reached our goals in 2017 for cataract surgeries with around 100,000 operations," Yildirim said.
The IHH cataract surgeries project started 10 years ago with the motto “If you see, they will see”.
“We built hospitals and medical faculties in many African countries in 2017,” he added.
Moreover, the aid group has opened more than 6,000 water wells opened in 33 countries so far.
Emergency food aid was delivered to 155,000 people affected by drought in Somalia and Ethiopia in 2017.
The IHH also helped 300,000 people in need in Yemen alone in 2017.
A 1,200-person capacity mosque was also opened in Vietnam last year.
Over a million people benefited from IHH works in Palestine in 2017 as well. The IHH also delivered aid to 555,000 Rakhine refugees in Bangladesh in 2017.