An iconic bakery and co-ordination centre set up on the Turkish border to facilitate humanitarian assistance to Syria’s refugees has gone up in flames. The centre in the town of Reyhanli – well known to aid workers from across the world(including South Africa) and run by the Turkish charity IHH – succumbed to a huge inferno in the late night hours of July 30, 2015. According to initial findings, the blaze was caused by an electrical malfunction.
“The fire which broke out at our bakery.. became uncontrollable as it spread across the entire logistic center within seconds. The fire was unable to be controlled for hours even though 30 firefighters and 5 construction equipment came from Hatay and its neighboring provinces,” the IHH said in a press release.
“Fire fighters showed great efforts to prevent the flames from spreading onto fuel tanks. After hours of great struggles, what was feared did not occur and the fire was extinguished without reaching fuel tanks. The damage assessment of the burnt logistics center is still continuing. The support we carry out in Syria still continues through our Kilis logistics center, mobile oven and other mobile units.”
The bakery and accompanying logistics centre have played a critical role in providing for the day to day needs of millions of Syrian refugees scattered both within Turkey and Syria. It has also served as a launching pad for the humanitarian missions of IHH-affiliated aid groups from across the globe.
According to the IHH, 15-20 aid trucks would depart from the centre daily for humanitarian missions inside Syria.
The now gutted bakery of the centre would produce to the tune of 170 000 breads daily for the Syrian refugees. Since its inception, the bakery is said to have produced some 200-million breads for the refugees.
According to a communique from the IHH, 24 000-ton stores that were used to store food aid, medical aid and clothing aid on the premises, which was built on 23-acre land in 2013, are also currently out of use due to fire.
During one of a series of visits by Cii News to the region, in 2013, our correspondent reported from the fully operational bakery on the dire need it was fulfilling in alleviating the daily bread needs of Syrian refugees.
“The war has made exact statistics on the need for bread hard to assess, but as reports the New York Times, the hundreds of people lining up for five hours and more for bread daily at numerous locations across Syria are testament to the shortage. The few bakeries still running in the country produce barely enough to satisfy even one-quarter of the need.”
The staggering inflation affecting essential food items like bread was noted, and the attacks of the Syrian regime on bakeries and bread queuing lines within Syria was chronicled as context for the bakery’s significance.
“(The) IHH is putting its best efforts to reopen the bakery and logistics centres not to let the people in need down,” the Muslim NGO said in a press release.” Thanks to our donors we are planning to get the bakery and logistics stores back in gear soon.”
The organisation made a special appeal to wellwishers to contribute towards the centre’s rebuilding.
In a related development, the South African based Al Imdaad Foundation has initiated a fundraising campaign to get the bakery(which South African donors had also been contributing to) back on its feet. The Foundation may be contacted on 0861 786 243. CII (Ebrahim Moosa)