Turkey races to aid Somalia in massive relief effort
Aid is unloaded after the first two Turkish Airlines cargo aircrafts carrying relief supplies for families in need landed at Mogadishu Airport Monday night.
Turkish charity organizations, governor's offices and even the national government have all launched campaigns as part of a massive humanitarian effort to aid drought-stricken East Africa.
As part of a campaign led by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA), Turkish Red Crescent and the Directorate of Religious Affairs, the first two Turkish Airlines (THY) cargo aircraft carrying relief supplies for families in need landed at Mogadishu Airport Monday night. TİKA President Serdar Cam, together with Somalia's deputy prime minister, minister of national planning and international cooperation, and interior minister welcomed the planes at the airport.
The planes carried 50 tons of aid to assist approximately 1,500 families. Each package is intended to meet the needs of one family for one month. Aid parcels contain baby formula, rice, lentils, chickpeas, beans, oil, sugar and flour as well as medical and cleaning supplies.
Airport officials and Turkish Red Crescent staff members loaded the planes on Monday. Once the aircraft arrived in Mogadishu, Somali officials and Red Crescent authorities put the aid on trucks to distribute it to the camps on Tuesday.
Red Crescent Director General Ömer Taşlı told the Anatolia news agency on Monday that the Turkish organizations met with Somalia's Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali to discuss Turkey's humanitarian effort. "We visited camps in the capital city to which Somali people are migrating from rural areas due to security problems and famine. We will visit camps in the southern part of the country tomorrow. We are going to sign a memorandum about humanitarian aid with Somali authorities," he said. Taşlı said another plane carrying Turkish aid had already landed in Nairobi. A ship carrying seven tons of humanitarian relief is also on its way to Somalia, he said.
The majority of the foodstuffs will be stored in large depots in Somalia. All aid obtained from 14 Arab countries will be collected in a storage facility belonging to Turkish charity organizations. The Turkish groups will also be responsible for the administration of the camps and the distribution of relief.
THY, the Sabah group and the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) also supported the effort. AFAD, recognizing that millions of people are struggling with starvation in Africa, especially in Somalia, announced Tuesday it will coordinate aid from various campaigns in Turkey. The Prime Ministry's decision was published in the Cabinet's Tuesday issue of the Official Gazette.
Governor's offices across Turkey have joined in the humanitarian effort as well. The governors' offices of both Ankara and Konya announced Tuesday that their provinces are collecting aid for Africa. Likewise, a campaign has been started in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat under the leadership of the governor's office. The Yozgat Governor's Office said that it set up an assistance committee for Somalia and other struggling African countries to coordinate aid and assistance activities across the province during the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Mosques in the province of Erzincan, the İzmir Board of Trade (İTB), the Futures and Options Exchange (VOB) and the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) are also participating in the cause for Africa.
Up to 12 million people in the Horn of Africa have been affected by famine, according to the UN. The Agency for International Development said that more than 29,000 Somali children under the age of five have died in the past 90 days, and 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has stated that more than $1 billion will be necessary to address all the needs of the people suffering there.