Erdoğan says Somalia aid needs to reach $500 million

Erdoğan says Somalia aid needs to reach $500 million

Erdoğan said Turkey has mobilized all means to raise the amount of donations for Somalia to $500 million.

August 22, 2011, Monday/ 17:40:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey has mobilized all means to raise the amount of donations for Somalia to $500 million, a sum that is urgently needed by the African country to survive one of the deadliest and roughest famines of its recent history.

“At the İstanbul session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) last week, we secured $350 million, almost half of which was Turkey’s contribution alone,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying at an iftar event on Sunday by the Anatolia news agency. “We are trying to raise it to $500 million, which is needed urgently by Somalis.”

Erdoğan visited refugee camps with his family along with members from the Cabinet to see the situation and boost morale in the famine-stricken country during a visit to Somalia last week that came on the heels of the OIC meeting in İstanbul.

In Somalia, various Turkish government-backed organizations are exerting their efforts to help people survive the famine by distributing donations of food and medical supply packages, as well as contributions to the infrastructure of the country, including drilling much needed wells and establishing mobile hospitals.

According to Anatolia news agency figures, Turkey has managed to collect a total of roughly $137 million (TL245.2 million) through campaigns initiated by the Turkish Prime Ministry, and the Turkish Red Crescent has been stationed in the African country to establish tent sites that can cater to the needs of shelter, food and health services of Somalis.

In Somalia, almost 3 million people face death amidst hunger, contagious diseases and the violence of armed gangs. As further noted by Erdoğan, Turkey is also preparing to facilitate a settlement to Somalia’s internal conflict by mobilizing its Foreign Ministry to take steps towards this and address one of the main problems of security in Somalia.

The Turkish Red Crescent, still in the process of erecting a tent site to accommodate 2,000 people, is also being supported by the Turkish Ministry of Health, which has set up a field hospital equipped with medical supplies and health personnel, and is preparing to establish five more in areas designated by the Somali state. Turkey is also set to re-open a hospital compound in the country within the year.

Separately, a team of volunteering Turkish doctors has arrived in Somalia to provide medical help to Somalis, particularly children. The team of 20 doctors consists of a pediatrician, an ER specialist and a dentist, as well as other medical staff. Serdar Ertugrul, the deputy chairman of the Turkey-based International Health and Education Association, explained that the priority of the team was “children in serious condition, facing imminent death,” and that the doctors have so far visited 4,000 tents in a camp set up by the Kimse Yok Mu Foundation.

The Turkish military was also noted on Monday to be ready to send a cargo ship of humanitarian aid supplies to the country. In a note released on the military’s website, it was announced that Turkish military forces will set sail to Somalia as part of Turkey’s aid campaign to help Somalis struggling with famine and the cholera epidemic brought on by the drought.

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