Tens of millions at risk of hunger in Turkey – opposition MPs

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called for a parliamentary inquiry into the impact of poverty and social inequality in Turkey with 34 million civilians “facing the threat of starvation”, Bianet reported on Wednesday.

“Sixteen million citizens are poor, and 18 million citizens live on the verge of poverty,” HDP parliamentary group co-chairs Meral Danış Beştaş and Saruhan Oluç said in a submitted request, citing figures provided by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK).

An income of 4,321 Turkish liras ($553) was necessary to properly provide for a family of four, but the falling international value of the currency had increased the prices of basic needs such as electricity and fuel, pushing more people into poverty, the deputies said.

The value of the lira has repeatedly hit historic lows in recent years, culminating in the 2018 currency crisis, which critics blame on the government’s failure to raise interest rates.

Meanwhile, the deputies said unemployment had risen to 17 million, significantly higher than the official figure of just over 4 million.

The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has heaped extra pressure on the already fragile Turkish economy, leading to falling living standards across the country.

"The enormity of these figures alone shows the weakness of economic policies and the inability to rule,” Beştaş and Oluç said.