Rhine-Sieg district sends help to earthquake victims "We hope that no aid truck will be hijacked"
Rhein-Sieg-Kreis · After the earthquake disaster in Turkey and Syria, there is a great willingness to donate in the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis. Together with other organisations, the association "Lohmar hilft" has sent the first trucks on their way to Aleppo. However, it is uncertain whether they will all arrive there.
Manu Gardeweg has little time to talk. She has to take care of ten tonnes of aid supplies sitting in the yard. On Monday, a convoy of the Civilian Crisis Management Network with eight trucks has already set off from Kazakhstan to Afrin and Aleppo. "We hope that no vehicle will be hijacked," says the founder of the association "Lohmar hilft", which is part of the network. The drivers of the transports are not protected by the police. On the contrary: the officers stop aid transports and ask to unload the vehicle. Gardeweg fears that they are enriching themselves from the aid goods.
Only through luck and contacts, he says, did one shipment arrive at its destination. The Turkish driver has a cousin at the police headquarters in Istanbul. He was able to drive on unmolested after "pulling his telephone joker", as Gardeweg describes. That is why it is important that the drivers speak Turkish. The situation for aid organisations is extremely difficult in Turkey. At the border with Syria, they are sometimes asked to hand over one of their vehicles. Only then are the rest allowed to pass. Since many organisations cannot afford such losses, they have to turn back or try again the next day.
"In convoy, registered and over routes declared as safe, our volunteers set off. The security situation is not easy, keep your fingers crossed for a good arrival," it also says on the Facebook page of the Civilian Crisis Team Network. The association of smaller aid organisations was founded to provide help in Ukraine. Now the network is also helping in the earthquake zone. The trucks are loaded with basic food, blankets and mattresses. But also working materials such as gloves, helmets, jackhammers and generators are on their way to the affected areas. Each truck can supply about 1000 families with food and sleeping accessories. A truckload, including transport, costs around 35,000 Euro.
Association no longer accepts private donations in kind
Yesterday, two 7.5 ton trucks from the Islamic Community arrived in Herne, Gardeweg reports. From 1 p.m., the next three or four trucks will arrive. "Lohmar hilft" currently only works with partner organisations for earthquake aid. They only deliver goods that are really needed. "The goods arrive pre-sorted and packed, which is a great help for us," says Gardeweg. For the time being, the association no longer accepts donations in kind from private individuals. One gets the impression that many donors only want to get rid of discarded items. There was a lot of summer clothing among the private donations, but also cross-country skis and motorbike clothing. The donations have to be sorted laboriously. "Therefore, please do not make any private individual donations for the duration of 14 days until we have packed everything away here. We will get back to you as soon as we can accept things again..." the initiative posted on Facebook at the weekend. Donations for the transport costs, on the other hand, are urgently needed.
Last Saturday, the first Sprinter arrived in the affected area. Gardeweg does not want to say where exactly. She is afraid of looting. But the people on the ground have received urgently needed food, warm clothing and broaching tools. Now, she said, it is a matter of setting up storage containers to stow more aid supplies. Toilets and shower containers are also urgently needed.
The cold winter complicates the situation
Bilal Ünal is chairman of the integration council in Sankt Augustin. Last week he called for support for those affected. "Many people from the Rhein-Sieg district and thus also from Sankt Augustin have family and friends in the earthquake area and the desire to help urgently at the moment," said Ünal. The sympathy is great. Many cannot reach their relatives in the earthquake area. The cold winter makes the situation even more difficult for the people. Ünal is in favour of monetary donations and advises against donations in kind or even independent journeys to the area. These hinder the aid organisations on the ground rather than helping them. Sufficient donations of clothing have been received from Turkey and the rest of Europe. Food is also being supplied to those affected from Turkey. Infrastructure and goods such as generators or mobile toilets are now important. For monetary donations, Ünal recommends organisations such as the German-Turkish Association of Cologne, German Agro Action, Aktion Deutschland hilft or the German Red Cross.
Ünal is also on the board of the football club SV Umutspor Troisdorf. The mood there is tense at the moment. Some of his club colleagues have relatives in the earthquake zone who have lost their homes. Last week's training session and a friendly match at the weekend were cancelled because of the earthquake. Now, however, training is resuming. The season will start at the end of February. Besides: "It is better to take your mind off things and do sports than to watch the news all day," says Ünal. (Original text: Ines Bresler / Translation: Mareike Graepel)