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Turkish Red Crescent mobilizes for unprecedented famine threat in Somalia

YUNUS PAKSOY:

As hundreds of thousands of Somalis have been struggling to survive in the face of famine and drought, the Turkish Red Crescent has mobilized to offer them a lifeline. Having provided over a number of aid as well as thousands of tents and beds to those in need, the aid agency initially aims to reach out to children, nearly 71,000.

Amid an unprecedented drought that is threatening the lives of millions of Somalis, the Turkish Red Crescent has ramped up its humanitarian campaign in the area to quench the most urgent needs of the affected.

With its population reaching nearly 15 million people in the latest estimations, Somalia is one of the countries in Africa that is on the verge of losing millions of people due to drought, famine and civil war.

Around 75 percent of the population in Somalia has been affected by at least one of those three reasons over the last couple of years.

The 2017 famine in Somalia, which is expected to surpass the one in 2011, is highly likely to kill hundreds of thousands of people if the world does not take urgent steps as soon as possible. The crisis has already ushered a wave of migration inside Somalia. There are currently 3 million internally displaced people (IDP) in Somalia, according to information provided by the Turkish Red Crescent.

Lending a helping hand to the people of Somalia since 2011, the Turkish Red Crescent has provided humanitarian aid to the country, amounting to TL 182 million ($38 million).

While the nongovernmental organization (NGO) has provided more than 70,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the Somalis, it has also delivered more than 10,000 tents and beds to the famished country.

Daily Sabah traveled to the capital of Somali, Mogadishu where the NGO has a base, to observe the humanitarian efforts of the Turkish Red Crescent, which employs 54 people, 51 of whom are natives.

“We are trying to raise awareness in Turkey about the dire situation both in and around Mogadishu by detecting the main problems here,” Mehmet Güllüoğlu, director general of the Turkish Red Crescent, said on the field in Mogadishu.

The situation in Somalia looks grim. The current reality of people starving to death in the middle of deserts may be followed by mass starvation. The Turkish Red Crescent estimates 150 people have already died so far while trying to reach the capital where they could have found a little bit more food.

“There are 71,000 children to whom we need to reach out first. They are malnourished and may starve to death in the very near future,” Güllüoğlu confronted.

Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the U.N. secretary-general last month in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.

All are connected by a thread of violent conflict, the U.N. chief said.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Red Crescent has warned that the U.N.’s efforts fall short of the worldwide need.

“The U.N. has made a call for the crisis in Somalia, but the world cannot meet the needs,” Güllüoğlu contended, adding that the Turkish Red Crescent is in the area to produce better results on behalf of Turkey.

The mass starvation and the drought lead to serious diseases as well. Because of a lack of clean water in many areas, there is the additional threat of cholera and other diseases, U.N. experts have warned, as some deaths from cholera are already being reported.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also aware of the famine threat in the country. The president took to his official Twitter account to raise awareness regarding the matter among his followers.

“We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to requests for help from those countries where the drought-related hunger has reached critical levels,” he wrote, calling on everyone to make donations and support aid campaigns to avert the tragic hunger and famine in the African nations.

Courtesy: Daily Sabah