First cargo planes of Turkish aid to take off for Somalia.

undefinedHalkaan ka akhri

Turkey will send two cargo planes carrying 50 tons of humanitarian aid to Somalia on Monday, with more to follow, as both government offices and civil-society organizations have swiftly mobilized to help the drought-hit country.

Millions of Africans’ lives are severely threatened by growing famine in the Horn of Africa.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday issued a memorandum calling on all institutions to launch aid campaigns to help Africa, and in particular Somalia. The Turkish Red Crescent subsequently said Turkey’s first two cargo planes would leave for Somalia on Monday from Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport.

The Directorate of Religious Affairs and the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency, or TİKA, have launched their own aid campaigns. Turkey has also called on the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, to hold an urgent meeting on help for Somalia, which is facing one of its worst droughts in 60 years.

“We will send our first cargo plane to Mogadishu [the Somali capital] from Ankara [on Monday], and we will continue to send aid to this country by cargo planes and ships,” Erdoğan said during a fast-breaking, or iftar, dinner in Istanbul late Saturday.

Underlining the difficulty Somalia faces in dealing with the famine on its own, Erdoğan’s memo said immediate action was necessary.

“In addition to the efforts of the Turkish government to assist friendly peoples who are suffering because of hunger and drought, many other private initiatives are underway to assist those countries. An effective cooperation and coordination is necessary to carry out the works properly. The Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management will fulfill this mission,” it said.

 The epicenter of the drought lies on the three-way border shared by Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, a nomadic region where families depend heavily on the health of their livestock. Uganda and Djibouti have also been hit by the disaster.

The Turkish cargo planes will carry 50 tons of aid supplies, including milk powder, baby biscuits, rice, sugar, chickpeas and salt, the Turkish Red Crescent said in a written statement Sunday. A seven-person team headed by Red Crescent Director-General Ömer Taşlı has already arrived in Mogadishu to coordinate delivery of the aid supplies.

Turkey’s EU Ministry said in a written statement that it had launched a separate aid campaign for Somalia.

A Turkish charity organization has meanwhile delivered food and medical supplies in Kenya to contribute to international efforts to fight the worst drought in years in Africa. A four-member emergency team from the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or İHH, has delivered food and medical supplies worth $40,000 in the United Nations’ Dadaab camp on the Kenyan-Somali border, an area that shelters hundreds of thousands of refugees.

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