Turkey to help famine-hit Somalia, planning to mobilize efforts in Africa

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) speaks at a news conference with his Ghanaian counterpart Mohammed Mumuni. (Photo: AA)

August 04, 2011, Thursday/ 18:16:00

Turkey is planning to undertake what Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has called a “large-scale” campaign to help famine-hit Somalia at a time when tens of thousands of people have died in a drought, the worst in Somalia in 60 years.

According to United Nations estimates, 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, a statistic that suggests the death toll of small children will rise.

Davutoğlu stated at a joint news conference with his Ghanaian counterpart, Muhammad Mumuni, on Thursday that Turkey has mobilized all its state institutions to urgently help impoverished people suffering from severe drought and famine, adding that the Religious Affairs Directorate has started a comprehensive campaign in this regard. Davutoğlu said Turkey’s state-run Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) has already started a serious campaign with $1 million and will continue raising more funds. According to the foreign minister, TİKA’s first aid plane will arrive in Mogadishu this week.

TİKA said last week during a Somali aid conference organized by the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that it is planning to dispatch four humanitarian aid planes to Somalia.

“We are doing our best to alleviate the suffering of our brothers in that region,” Davutoğlu said.

The UN on Wednesday declared three new regions in Somalia famine zones, bringing the total number to five. Out of a population of roughly 7.5 million, the UN says 3.2 million Somalis are in need of immediate lifesaving assistance. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been donated to fight the hunger crisis, but the UN says it needs hundreds of millions more.

Mumuni also acknowledged that the drought and famine are a very big problem, particularly in Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti and that his country is aware of Turkey’s works in this regard. “Turkey is trying to help millions of people and were it otherwise, these people would die of starvation,” Mumuni said, adding that this is true leadership and that “we pay a great respect to that.”

The Turkish foreign minister is also planning to expand his scheduled Africa tour this month to discuss the war in Libya and the raging famine in the Horn of Africa. Davutoğlu and Mumuni discussed bilateral relations, the latest developments in southern Africa, particularly the famine and humanitarian tragedy in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, during their talks on Wednesday.

Davutoğlu said he had scheduled a visit to Ethiopia and South Africa to have talks on Libya but said he might add one or two countries to his itinerary to discuss both Libya and the famine in Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Davutoğlu is planning to visit Ethiopia on Aug. 19 to have talks with Ethiopian officials and African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping and then will travel to South Africa. 

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