Tears of Somalia
Turkey is redoubling its efforts to end the suffering of the Somali people.
The world should follow.
BY RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN | OCTOBER 11, 2011
.....The military contribution provided by Uganda and Burundi within the
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to prevent chaos and terror
deserves appreciation. With this opportunity, I would like to issue a call
to all neighboring countries, including Eritrea, to increase their existing
efforts for the establishment of peace and security in Somalia and to
enhance long-term regional stability.........
Somalia is suffering from the most severe drought and famine in the last 60
years, which has already resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of
people and endangers the lives of 750,000 more Somalis. This crisis tests
the notion of civilization and our modern values. It reveals, once again,
that it is a basic human obligation to pursue international cooperation and
solidarity to provide solace for those suffering from natural and man-made
It is not realistic to consider Somalia's plight as caused solely by a
severe natural disaster. We cannot ignore the fact that, in addition to the
drought, the international community's decision to leave Somalia to its own
fate is also an underlying factor causing this drama. Twenty years of
political and social instability, lawlessness, and chaos have added
enormously to the problems in Somalia. The horrifying truck bombing of the
Transitional Federal Government's ministerial complex on Oct. 4 is just the
latest evidence of this. The international community must not respond to
this act of terrorism by retreating from Somalia, but by redoubling its
efforts to bring aid to its people.
Nobody with common sense and conscience can remain indifferent to such a
drama, wherever on Earth it may be and whichever people have to bear it. Our
urgent intervention as responsible members of the international community
can contribute to the alleviation of the Somali people's distress. However,
the establishment of lasting peace and stability will only be possible
through long-term, far-reaching, and coordinated efforts.
Turkey mobilized last month to help end this suffering. We consider this
solidarity a humanitarian obligation toward the people of Somalia, with whom
we have deep historical relations. Many of our institutions, NGOs, and
people of all ages have made an extraordinary effort to alleviate the
suffering of women and children in Somalia. We are proud of the sensitivity
and cooperation displayed by the Turkish people during the holy month of
Ramadan. In the last month alone, approximately $280 million worth of
donations for Somalia were collected in Turkey. The Turkish people's
generosity has served as an example to other donor countries as well as the
international community, offering hope for the resolution of the crisis in
The Turkish government has also moved decisively to help alleviate this
humanitarian crisis. Turkey took the initiative to hold an emergency meeting
of the executive committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
at the ministerial level on Aug. 17. At this meeting, which was attended by
the president of Somalia and high-level representatives from 40 member
countries of the OIC, $350 million was committed to help relieve the famine
in Somalia, and the participants agreed to increase this amount to half a
billion dollars. The Turkish Red Crescent is also standing shoulder to
shoulder with international aid organizations and is working to meet the
needs of those in all the camps in the Mogadishu region.
Following the emergency meeting of the OIC executive committee, I -- along
with a number of Turkish ministers, some members of parliament, bureaucrats,
business people, artists, and families -- visited the country on Aug. 19 to
tell the people of Somalia that they are not alone. We visited the camps. We
tried to give hope and encourage people who live in very different
conditions from ours. We took note of the lack of such a high-level visit
from outside of Africa to Somalia for the last 20 years, and informed the
international community of this fact.
Turkey has decided to launch a major humanitarian effort to help restore
normalcy to Mogadishu. To this end, we are preparing to provide assistance
in the fields of health, education, and transportation. We will inaugurate a
400-bed hospital, provide garbage trucks for the streets of Mogadishu, build
a waste-disposal facility to burn the accumulated garbage in the streets,
pave the road between Mogadishu's airport and the city center, renovate the
parliament and other government buildings, dig water wells, and develop
organized agricultural and livestock areas. Our embassy, which will be
opened in Mogadishu shortly and headed by an ambassador who is experienced
in the field of humanitarian aid and familiar to the region, will coordinate
By supporting the restoration of peace and stability efforts, we will work
with the Transitional Federal Government and other institutions in Somalia
in order to launch the development process of this shattered country. To
this end, we expect all Somali authorities to demonstrate an extraordinary
effort in unity, integrity, and harmony.
The success of aid operations is directly linked to the establishment of
security. The withdrawal from Mogadishu of armed elements in the al-Shabab
organization is clearly a positive development for security in the region.
But this is not sufficient. Moving the Somali-related U.N. offices currently
located in Nairobi to Mogadishu will be a positive step to support this
process and one that should be taken without delay.
Neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya bear a special
responsibility regarding the restoration of peace and stability in Somalia.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the African Union will
also share this responsibility, and Turkey supports them in their tasks. In
line with the Djibouti peace process, Somalia's Transitional Federal
Government should intensify efforts at reconciliation by maintaining
dialogue with all fighting groups and pledge prosperity, brotherhood, order,
and prosperity in return for peace.
The military contribution provided by Uganda and Burundi within the African
Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to prevent chaos and terror deserves
appreciation. With this opportunity, I would like to issue a call to all
neighboring countries, including Eritrea, to increase their existing efforts
for the establishment of peace and security in Somalia and to enhance
long-term regional stability.
In Turkish culture, it is believed that something good will come out of all
bad experiences. In Somalia, too, this disaster can mark the beginning of a
new process by focusing international humanitarian efforts and global
attention on the plight of the region. However, this situation will only be
sustainable if we continue to be sensitive to the needs of the Somali
The tears that are now running from Somalia's golden sands into the Indian
Ocean must stop. They should be replaced by hopeful voices of a country
where people do not lose their lives because of starvation and where they
express their eagerness to develop and restore peace and stability.
Regardless of which culture we come from or where we live, I am confident
that our common heritage as human beings will motivate us to ease the
suffering of Somalia.
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Received on Tue Oct 11 2011 - 11:22:19 EDT