From sending ventilators to Somalia, fabric and sewing machines to Mozambique and Eswatini to make masks locally, to solving transportation problems for Ugandan health workers in remote areas, Turkey helped arm its African partners from the early days to better combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

Despite battling the COVID-19 outbreak at home, Turkey did not forget its partners and sent fleets of planes carrying medical supplies, masks, respirators, etc. all over Africa to stem the spread of the virus.

In April, a military plane carrying medical supplies took off to help South Africa, which emerging as the worst-hit country in the continent.

“This is a gesture of the Turkish government to South Africa,” Turkish Ambassador Elif Comoglu Ulgen told Anadolu Agency when the supplies landed at the Cape Town International Airport.

Besides medical equipment, the supplies included personal protection gear, surgical masks, medical-grade N95 masks, protective suits, face shields, medical safety goggles, hand sanitizers, and a disinfection tunnel made specifically for South Africa.

The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) a state-run aid agency also handed over 10,000 N95 face masks to Kalafong Hospital in South Africa’s executive capital Pretoria to help health workers to combat the virus.

TIKA also provided protective gear to Lesotho, a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa. The items which included sanitizers, gloves, and masks were handed over to the country’s disaster management team which later distributed to three hospitals and 20 clinics in the poorest and remote regions of the country.

Helping Uganda, Somalia

Earlier this year, TIKA also sent food aid to Uganda to help the landlocked East African country whose economy was badly hit by the outbreak. The aid included 1,000 food packets of flour, beans, and sugar.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Uganda Kerem Alp and TIKA’s Uganda Coordinator Yahya Acun delivered the aid to Mary Karooro Okurut, the minister in charge of general duties, for distributing them to needy people.

Turkey donated 100 bicycles to Uganda’s COVID-19 national task force, which was in a difficult situation due to the unavailability of transport in many districts.

Uganda’s Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda thanked the Turkish people for their support.

Turkey also dispatched a shipment of medical supplies, including new Turkish-made ventilators, to Somalia to help the Horn of Africa country combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Taking to Twitter, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the locally manufactured ventilators, made through recent technological advances, “will breathe new life into Somalia, which suffers from a severe shortage of ventilators”.

Namibia also got Turkish medical supplies that included 30,000 N95 masks, 60,000 three-layered masks, and 20,000 protective coveralls.

Officials said the Turkish donation to Namibia was a gesture of friendship and goodwill.

Earlier this month, TIKA helped the Clinical Emergency Medical Care and Education Laboratory of the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) by providing necessary equipment.

Turkey’s ambassador to Botswana Meltem Buyukkarakas said that TIKA donated 27 tons of food hampers to 1,000 families in Botswana to help them deal with difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The donation was handed over to the Vice President of the Republic of Botswana in May 2020, as Turkey’s contribution to Botswana’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.

TIKA supplies fabric and swing machines

In Mozambique, Ambassador Zeynep Kiziltan said TIKA donated traditional fabrics for the production of 26,000 masks in a vocational training center, where TIKA also donated sewing machines and renovated two workshops in collaboration with the municipality of Maputo the country’s capital. Turkey also distributed food parcels to hundreds of vulnerable families affected by COVID-19 during Ramadan.

In June, Ankara, donated 50,000 face masks to Rwanda, while a private company in Turkey also sent 40,000 masks to help the East African nation tackle the virus outbreak, according to Burcu Cevik, Turkey’s ambassador to Rwanda.

In June, TIKA donated sewing machines to the African kingdom of Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, to help them produce face masks to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The machines were later distributed by the Eswatini government to Women in Development Training Centers which provide training skills such as basic sewing, food processing, business management, and appropriate technical skills.

Turkey also sent medical equipment to Zambia, Angola, and South Sudan among other countries.

Turkey sent medical aid to over 150 countries and six international organizations in 2020 to help them combat the pandemic, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month.

Turkish Airlines repatriation mission

In May Turkish Airlines helped to repatriate 61 South Africans stranded in Istanbul after receiving special permission, according to Ulgen, Turkish envoy in Pretoria. She said Turkish Airline flights on way to South Africa to repatriate stranded Turks transported stranded South Africans as well.

The Turkish flag courier also helped the return of 14 Rwandans stuck in Turkey for several weeks after air traffic was stopped due to COVID-19 related restrictions. The plane later left Kigali for Istanbul with the stranded Turks, according to Turkey’s ambassador to Rwanda, Burcu Cevik.

Turkey also helped several other Africans stuck in the country to return home as the fleet of Turkish Airlines flew from Istanbul to different African destinations to repatriate their citizens.

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