Istanbul officials launch aid campaign to fund unpaid utility bills

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ISTANBUL, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Local officials in Turkey's biggest city Istanbul on Wednesday launched a new online aid campaign for those who have trouble paying their invoices due to limitations against COVID-19.

Ekrem Imamoglu, mayor of Istanbul municipality, called on Istanbul residents in need to post their unpaid water and natural gas bills on an online system created by his teams, in an announcement on Twitter on Tuesday.

He also urged people who want to contribute to pick one from the list and submit the payment online.

On Wednesday morning, people flocked to the website of the municipality eagerly to pay the bills of those who cannot afford.

Damla Arikan, who lives in the Cihangir neighborhood in central Istanbul, told Xinhua that she searched the municipality's website in the morning to pay an invoice of approximately 100 Turkish liras (13.9 U.S. dollars).

"It took around 15 minutes for me to be able to submit my payment as there was too much website traffic," Arikan said.

Each time she selected a bill, Arikan saw a message saying that "this invoice was paid."

"I think there were many people like me who wanted to help as much as they can," she noted.

So far, a total of 17,042 households posted their bills worth 3.9 million liras on the system, according to Imamoglu.

"The global pandemic brought not only health problems but also very severe economic difficulties," the mayor said, noting that millions of people living in Istanbul who rely on daily income have been unable to work for almost two months.

Imamoglu noted that the municipality launched the campaign to show solidarity with these families "during the difficult days."

Meanwhile, many social media users called on people to join the campaign, saying that "goodness is contagious." Enditem

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