By Handan Kazanci
ISTANBUL (AA) - The Turkish Red Crescent helped 37 million people last year and wants to further boost aid in 2021, according to the charity's director.
Kerem Kinik told Anadolu Agency about the satisfaction of being able to fulfill the Red Crescent's duties in 2020 with the help of volunteers and professional employees.
"But a similar burden awaits us in 2021," he added.
In 2021, the group "will strengthen volunteer [projects], especially boosting the resilience of society, empowering the individual, preparing for disasters," he said.
Kinik pointed to an online platform for volunteers, gonulluol.org, which was launched as part of a Turkish Red Crescent project.
"It is a solidarity platform where they [participants] will complete their development with training and will receive and contribute to many different projects of the agency," he explained. "Our goal is to reach 2 million volunteers."
Kinik's remarks were made after he attended the opening of an exhibit to mark the Turkish Red Crescent's more than 150 years of history as an aid agency.
History of Our Endless Solidarity: Red Crescent can be seen in Istanbul's teeming Beyoglu district at the Tarik Zafer Tunaya Cultural Center from Jan. 14 to Feb. 27.
"This exhibit reflects our common historical background, not only national Turkish but as humanity," Kinik said earlier. "You can see on our posters the global solidarity of mankind during big disasters."
- 'Movement of goodness for 153 years'
Kinik described his agency as an "uninterrupted movement of goodness for 153 years."
"It is a structure that still lives with the same values it was founded on and serves humanity with these values," he said, adding that the agency tries to reach everywhere it can to give aid.
Especially as the world is in the midst of a biological disaster with the coronavirus, he emphasized the importance of global solidarity.
The Turkish Red Crescent has also helped other aid groups around the world, he added.
"2020 was a busy year, it started with disasters, continued with disasters, and ended with disasters," Kinik said, citing floods in Turkey's Black Sea province of Giresun, an earthquake in the Aegean province of Izmir, as well as forest fires in southern Hatay province.
And all those happened during the coronavirus, he added.
- '1 of every 8 people in Turkey is a blood donor'
Kinik noted the Turkish Red Crescent's emphasis on blood donations.
Describing it as a "national duty," Kinik said: "There are approximately 10.5 million volunteer blood donors registered in the agency's database. So, one out of every eight people in Turkey is a blood donor for the Red Crescent."
"We have approximately 800,000 stem cell donors," he said, adding that around 50,000 COVID-19 immune plasma donors also donated more than 100,000 units of immune plasma blood components, which were transplanted to patients and helped them heal.
These efforts are part of a public health operation and will continue to be carried out along those lines, according to Kinik.
In 2021, the agency will step up its production of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as its work in blood services, said Kinik.
It will also increase its international assistance in 2021, Kinik said, and the number of permanent Red Crescent delegations abroad will be increased to 18 with offices in Azerbaijan and Ethiopia.
Established in 1868, the Turkish Red Crescent says on its website that its mission is "providing aid for needy and defenseless people in disasters and normal periods as a proactive organization, developing cooperation in society, providing safe blood, and reducing vulnerability."
Noting that the agency sent more than 5,000 trucks of humanitarian aid in 2020 alone, Kinik said: "Our assistance will continue along these lines as much as we can to achieve global good."