Turkey Urges 57-country Organization of Islamic Cooperation to Aid Somalia

Turkey has called on OIC to intervene immediately to assist famine-stricken Somalia, Foreign Minister Davutoglu said Friday.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Turkey has called on OIC to intervene immediately to assist famine-stricken Somalia, Foreign Minister Davutoglu said Friday. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey had urged the 57-country Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, to hold an emergency meeting on the famine in Somalia and the risks it poses to other African countries. “We want the OIC to intervene in the situation immediately,” Davutoglu told reporters, adding that he had held a phone conversation with OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu about a possible urgent meeting that could take place in either Istanbul or Jeddah. “We want to meet the needs of our African brothers during Ramadan,” he added, referring to the Muslim holy month that started Aug. 1. Turkey’s call came at a moment when the international community is slowly mobilizing to help 12 million people battling hunger in East Africa amid in the region’s worst drought in 60 years. The United Nations last month declared famine in two areas of southern Somalia, which has been in a state of armed anarchy for two decades, complicating any humanitarian relief effort. Thousands of people, mostly children, have died in recent months. The U.N. said this week that famine had spread to three new regions of Somalia, including the capital, Mogadishu, and the world’s largest camp for displaced people. Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs already launched a donation campaign for Africa at the beginning of Ramadan and Davutoglu said the government was considering ways to coordinate the country’s humanitarian aid to the region. The foreign minister plans to include Kenya, and a possible visit U.N. refugee camps in the northern part of the country, on the agenda of his upcoming trip to Africa. The camps host tens of thousands of Somalis who fled the violence in their country over the last two decades. . A cargo plane carrying food and medical equipment to drought-hit Africa will be sent Monday, a government official said Friday. “We cannot turn our back to the deaths of newborns and toddlers due to starvation and drought,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said. Turkey’s first aid campaign for Africa was launched by the Directorate of Religious Affairs at the beginning of Ramadan, calling on all Turkish people to help the Somali people. The Turkish Red Crescent and other nongovernmental organizations have launched their own campaigns as well; the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, has announced that a ship carrying humanitarian aid to Africa will sail from Istanbul on Aug. 15./129