The poorest suffered the most after the earthquake

06 Şubat 2024 Salı

A year has passed since the earthquake.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's words in Hatay sparked outrage. At a candidate introduction meeting in Hatay, devastated by the earthquake, he said, "If the central and local governments do not collaborate and stand in solidarity, that city will receive nothing. Did Hatay receive anything? Now, Hatay has been left desolate and forlorn." I cannot comprehend this statement.

I am still pondering. I wonder if there was a mistake in the script, but upon reviewing it repeatedly, these words were deliberately read and said. I even listened to the entire speech. In it, he specified the budget allocated for the provinces affected and damaged by the earthquake, stating, "Of course, our most affected province, Hatay, has received and will continue to receive its deserved share from this resource. We do not discriminate against our earthquake-affected brothers based on their voting choices or serve them based on their vote color." However, he separated the municipal services in the subsequent sentences, essentially saying, "If you do not vote for us in this election, you will continue to live in deprivation."

Throughout Erdoğan's tenure, I have been angered by almost every mistake, criticized them, and strived to write the truth.

But for the first time in his 22-year rule, these words have left me deeply saddened... My hope for the country to improve has diminished.

Let me explain...

It was the second day of the earthquake.

I immediately set off on the first day, heading to Kahramanmaraş and then to Antakya on the second. When I entered the Cebrail Neighborhood in Antakya, I started recording the streets with a mix of shock and deep sadness.

Two women desperately sought help, saying they heard the voices of an elderly couple trapped under the rubble. I shared this video on my social media account.

I felt responsible. Confused about what to do, I wished I could dig them out with my nails if possible. Only a few soldiers were nearby. I approached them, explained the situation, and tried to bring them to the rubble. One soldier took me to a partially collapsed building where I heard six people's voices. The soldier, trying to rescue them with a few others, expressed his frustration at the overwhelming situation, saying, "We're lost on where to begin." There were no tools or machinery. How could anyone lift half-ton walls? Even if they tried to break through, they lacked even a hammer. If they found a hole, they would attempt to reach the people.

Here's where I'm getting...

A year has passed since this disaster. Those with means have rebuilt their lives in Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir, opening shops, furnishing homes, and gradually adapting to new schools and lives. Yet, a vast majority still struggle in tents or containers, enduring the harshest cold and hottest months.

Those rescued from the rubble cannot escape the societal debris. Moreover, they're left to despair by the country's leader's implication, "If you vote for me, I'll bring you services."

Such a vice that I've lived ashamed of my humanity for a year.

The already impoverished were made worse off. Some were evicted from their homes due to high rents. Still, others live in cars or outside in the cold, while some slowly realize they'll be in containers for a long time.

Why hasn't the powerful government collected an extra tax from the wealthy solely for earthquake victims? Had this been done over the past year, who knows how many thousands could have been housed in orderly homes? You could build a new city, complete with infrastructure and natural gas. Those moving into houses would vacate containers for others living on the streets or cramped in tents to wait for their next step in somewhat better conditions.

In Hatay alone, AFAD identified 135,000 eligible for housing, with 7,275 homes delivered. The Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning stated, "The number of houses currently tendered and under construction or about to start construction is 100,335."

Instead of flaunting donations on TV, we'd be discussing a continuous earthquake fund. But no, the wealthy's money is more precious than the poor stranded by the earthquake.

I saw a video yesterday. A woman in Antakya's market said she was evicted for failing to pay rent. The landlord initiated legal action for the unpaid rent and succeeded. She pointed to her car behind her market stall, where they tried to survive in the cold, bedding laid in the back. Unable to hold back tears, she consoled herself, saying, "We'll get through this too."

So, if she votes, she'll have a roof over her head, right?

The system is flawed, the morality corrupted...

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