Pole heels, dirty lingerie and ripped and stained clothing have been discovered among ‘inappropriate’ donations made to survivors of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
Videos shared on TikTok show volunteers sifting through boxes of aid, pulling out items including 10-inch latex heels.
Another video showed a silver disco crop top, brown-stained towels and lingerie pulled out.
‘Clothing collection drop-offs are not a place where you can empty your trash,’ a comment read.
‘Those people also have pride. Does your conscience not hurt at all? It is enough for God’s sake. Please, enough.’
Volunteers working around the clock as part of the relief efforts have appealed for ‘dignity in charity’.
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Erim Metto, CEO of the Turkish Cypriot Community Association, based in London, told Metro.co.uk that a fifth of all donations were ‘inappropriate’ or ‘unusable’.
‘We were very clear about what donations we would accept. We did say we would not accept any inappropriate clothing,’ he said.
‘For example, no thin-layer clothing, dresses or high heels. When donations come through, we do a two-stage cycling system.
‘The first stage is removing any second-hand, no-good-for-anything donations.
‘Our volunteers filter these through and they are discarded – for example, hygiene products that are only half-full and have been used.
‘This is not appropriate. Such donations are thrown away.
‘Once we get through that first stage, anything that is again not appropriate for the location we are gathering donations for, but is still usable, we would package separately and give to Trade.’
The sheer magnitude of the two earthquakes led to the deadliest natural disaster in the region in the last 100 years.
According to Turkish authorities, more than 36,000 people have been killed, and the death toll continues to rise.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government and the United Nations say more than 5,800 victims have been recorded across the border.
The world has watched in horror as hundreds of thousands of people in the two countries have been left without shelter and warm clothes in as low as 0°C.
Mr Metto, a filmmaker from Turkish-Cypriot descent, said donations were far higher than in the past.
On the day the earthquakes took place, TCCA received more than 240 phone calls from people desperate to help.
To put this in perspective, the association normally registers between 30 and 40 at the most.
‘We have done a lot of donation schemes in the past to help the homeless, people in Ukraine and we supported the community during Covid,’ the CEO said.
‘But this time the donations were far higher than we expected. By Wednesday, we had already retracted our appeal for donations.’
Most organisations have stressed that money is the best way to help the victims of the catastrophic event.
What may be well-intentioned efforts to donate items such as clothing, becomes a logistical nightmare when having to be transported across the border.
Mr Metto said a number of organisations have been collecting anything they can without a system of sifting through it.
He said large lorries, which are independent from any official charities, have been transporting aid to Turkey and ‘dumping it on the side of the road’ because there are no available storage facilities.
‘I would say that about 20% of the items we received was not appropriate, so we didn’t send any of it,’ he added.
‘Even when we collect for the homeless, we get inappropriate items. We have seen people giving us high heels for example.
‘We also do not forward if it is not necessary. Our plan is to hold on to clothes for two to three months, then send it.
‘At the moment, centres are receiving too much of it and are having to stock them in import depots in the countries of origin.
‘But we are still sending items. For example, we just did two shipments of camping tents. That is how we are working.’
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