Turkish Red Crescent chief, slammed for selling tents meant for quake survivors, steps down

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The head of Turkey’s Red Crescent organization has stepped down, the state-run news agency reported Friday, months after the aid agency came under intense criticism for selling tents to a charity instead of dispatching them directly to areas devastated by a powerful earthquake in February.

Kerem Kinik’s resignation came a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the Red Crescent’s actions during a town hall meeting with young people while campaigning ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary and presidential elections.

Erdogan had previously remained silent on the scandal that had led to widespread outrage and calls for Kinik to resign.

“I was seriously saddened by this issue,” Erdogan said in the campaign event on Thursday. “The Red Crescent cannot engage in the sale of tents. He (Kinik) must rectify this wrong.”

The organization was criticized for selling thousands of tents to a charity days after the Feb. 6 earthquake, amid a shortage of tents and shelter for the survivors.

The tents, which the charity bought with money raised from public, were dispatched to the earthquake zone.

Anadolu Agency reported that Kinik stepped down on Friday, after which the Red Crescent organization announced it would hold an extraordinary meeting.

Kinik, who had led the organization since 2016, denied any wrongdoing.

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