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Turkish PM to travel to famine-stricken Somalia with his family

10 August 2011, Wednesday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday announced that he will travel to the famine-stricken African country of Somalia along with his family and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

The prime minister announced his decision during his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Expanded Provincial Leaders Convention. He said he would travel to Somalia within a few days.

“Where is the world as people die of hunger in Somalia? Hundreds of people are dying of hunger and thirst. Are they extending their hands? They are thinking about what kind of a profit the opportunities they hold would provide for them. This is a humanitarian issue. … When will the international community cooperate if not today to save the children who walk towards death every day? Those who exploited Africa for years are now watching what is going on with their conscience dead,” Erdoğan said.

Somalia is suffering its worst drought in 60 years. A total of 187 out of every 1,000 Somali children die by the age of 5. There are less than 500 physicians in this country of more than 10 million people. The UN on Wednesday declared three new regions in Somalia famine zones, expanding the area where the highest rates of malnutrition and mortality are taking place, including the refugee camps in the capital of Mogadishu.

The UN's food arm said famine is likely to spread across all regions of Somalia's south in the next four to six weeks. Famine conditions are likely to persist until December, the Food and Agriculture Organization said. Across Somalia, 3.7 million people are in need, the UN says, out of a population of 7.5 million. The UN also says 3.2 million are in need of immediate, lifesaving assistance.

Turkish aid associations as well as the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) and the Religious Affairs Directorate have launched aid campaigns to help the Somali people.

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