The Izmir City Poverty Network Association (IKYA) said poverty in Turkey has deepened so drastically in recent years that people are no longer able to afford basic necessities, the Mezopotamya news agency (MA) reported.
IKYA was established in Izmir in July to work against inner city poverty and help those people who were most affected by it.
IKYA chairman Tolga Küleş said they worked with some of the most disadvantaged groups such as the elderly, ethnic minorities, migrants, the disabled, women and children. They observed that food, accommodation and accessing education and healthcare had recently become difficult for many people due to poverty.
“The government needs to establish a safety net for people who do not have the financial means to access these basic necessities,” he said.
Küleş added that many families were unable to buy their children basic school supplies such as pencils and notebooks. “There are young students at school who don’t eat for eight to 10 hours,” he said. “Some have to go to school in torn shoes.”
According to Küleş many people in poor neighborhoods do not have access to clean water and have to live in cramped quarters for high rents.
“The president and the government are responsible for solving these problems,” he said. “They need to see how the average person in Turkey is living.”
He explained that the gap between rich and poor had deepened in recent years and the government needed to develop policies to narrow this gap. However, even if the government managed to develop effective policies, it would take years to see the results.
Other local activists agree with Küleş’s statements that poverty has stricken many families. Hacer Foggo, founder of the Istanbul-based Deep Poverty Network, said in an interview with the Birgün daily that the families of thousands of children were unable to buy basic necessities and school supplies.
“The numbers just keep increasing each year,” she said. “Families simply cannot take care of their children anymore. A record number of families have not enrolled their children in school because they can’t buy basic supplies.”
Foggo said many children were malnourished and did not eat at school. She urged the government to implement a policy to provide free lunches in public schools.
Over the past several years Turkey has been suffering from a deteriorating economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.
A staggeringly high cost of living has become the new normal in Turkey, where recent increases in food and utility prices are pushing up inflation, further crippling the purchasing power of citizens.
An increasing number of Turks have complained on social media about rising electricity bills and falling into debt. Many have said even basic foods such as vegetables have become a luxury as prices have risen by nearly 400 percent.