As Turkey battles its own coronavirus outbreak, the country has been offering essential protective equipment, testing kits and even ventilators to countries around the world.

Turkey’s fight against the coronavirus has been fought on two fronts, the domestic and international, with the country becoming a leading supplier of medical aid around the world.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu underlined Turkish humanitarian efforts saying: "In addition to providing the largest amount of humanitarian aid in the world, Turkey is the third biggest supplier of medical aid worldwide during the coronavirus outbreak.”

The country’s aggressive fight against the pandemic at home has slowly yielded results with the government announcing that Turkey will also reopen hair salons and shopping malls on May 11, while people over the age of 65 will be allowed to go outside for four hours a day on May 10.

Children up to age 14 will be able to go out within walking distance of their homes from 11.00 am till 15.00 pm as of May 13.

Internationally, Turkey has continued to provide essential medical aid to some of the most vulnerable and hard-hit countries.

On Monday this week, Turkey, sent its third shipment of medical aid to Somalia, which included Turkish-made ventilators and other healthcare equipment necessary to fight the virus.

Somalia has so far recorded almost 800 infections and 35 deaths. 

In April, Turkey also sent a shipment of medical aid to South Africa which has over 7,000 cases.

The World Health Organisation warns that Africa could become the next epicentre of the virus, which has so far remained largely unscathed compared to Europe. 

Aid to Europe

The European continent has been one of the most affected regions accounting for more than half of the global death toll with almost 145,000 confirmed deaths.

The Turkish Air Force has been instrumental in the delivery of medical aid to Spain and Italy in particular.

The two European countries have been the hardest-hit in the continent with more than 450,000 infections and more than a quarter of the confirmed global deaths, reaching a total of almost 60,000.

Medical supplies were donated by Turkey to its long time NATO allies and include protective gear for front line staff, disinfectants and 450,000 face masks quoting the famous Persian poet Jalaluddin Rumi: "There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness.”

The Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya also thanked Turkey for allowing Spain to purchase ventilators from a Turkish company.

Amongst other hard-hit European countries, Turkey has also delivered aid to the UK, which has seen a critical shortage of frontline protective equipment

The President of the EU has thanked Turkey for its help in its bid to fight the coronavirus.

Many EU member states have been frustrated by Brussels’ slow response in helping individual European countries tackle the virus.

Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Donchev Karakachanov lashed out at the EU over the handling of the pandemic: “It turns out that the only institution that works for the benefit of citizens in Europe is not the expensive European bureaucracy, but the nation-state."

"As you can see, we have not received a single mask from Europe so far. We get help from China, from Turkey – countries with slightly different world views regarding the role of the state and its institutions in the world," Karakachanov added.

Bulgaria has purchased more than 50,000 masks, 100,000 protective garments and 100,000 safety goggles from Turkey.

Turkey delivers aid to neighbouring countries

Closer to home Turkey delivered much needed medical equipment to its historic neighbours in the Balkans as much of the European Union battles to contain the virus which saw the bloc paralysed.

Balkan countries have seen almost 20,000 infections, however, unlike other Western European countries, the officially reported rate of infections has seemingly slowed as the countries have taken strict measures to enforce social distancing.

In North Macedonia, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) distributed 2,500 packages of food, cleaning and hygiene products with the help of a local non-governmental organisation.

The Turkish Red Crescent also delivered personal protective equipment and isolation tents to Georgia.

Turkish aid to the Middle East

Aid agencies from Turkey have been instrumental in shipping aid to Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories giving out care packages and medical aid.

TIKA also sent help packages to Lebanon.

The Turkish Embassy in Beirut has spearheaded the effort to help over 600 families in need, living in the cities of Tripoli and Akkar. 

In Tunisia, TIKA sent a medical screening device to a hospital in the country. 

The hospital in the capital’s Aryana region was chosen by the Tunisian Health Ministry, and TIKA contributed to Tunisia's fight against the coronavirus by "providing a radiological screening system, DXR panel detector and a laser printer," said a statement by TIKA's Tunisia office. 

TIKA is also preparing a project with the Tunisian National Crafts Office, in order to support the production of masks, protective clothes in the country.

Libya, a country in the midst of civil war, has also been a beneficiary of Turkish aid

This support provided to the Tripoli government could prove essential to the state which has been battered by internal strife over the last nine years. The country has more than 60 confirmed cases of the virus and one death, however, the breakdown in civil order could hamper efforts to identify the true magnitude of the spread.

Aid to the US

The US has become the hardest-hit country with more than 1.2 million infections and the death rate spiralling to over 70,000.

Turkey has dispatched more than 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, 2,000 litres of disinfectant, 1,500 goggles, 400 N-95 masks, and 500 face shields.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter that the country is grateful to Turkey for the delivery of medical equipment.

“We are grateful for our @NATO Ally #Turkey. Their support is helping U.S. companies who are doing good work to help fight #COVID19 around the world. We will get through this together, and come out stronger than before,” said Pompeo.

After an initially slow response towards the virus with the Trump administration failing to take the threat seriously, the US government and states have been caught off-guard by the scale of the crises.

With the unemployment skyrocketing and the US economy in freefall, Trump’s re-election bid could be in danger.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies