Muslim world pledges support to Somalia
Updated: 2011-08-18 09:35
ISTANBUL - Muslim nations pledged here Wednesday to contribute $350 million to support famine- hit Somalia, where some 3.2 million people are estimated to be on the brink of starvation.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said "we managed to show the political will of all the Islamic countries to make more donations for Somalia."
"We had an aim of getting commitments to the tune of 500 million dollars, 350 million dollars of which have been collected with the hope that the remainder is attained shortly," said Ihsanoglu.
Somalia President Sheikh Ahmed and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the meeting as well as representatives of 57 members of OIC.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Erdogan said that the situation in Somalia poses not just a test for the Somali people but for humanity as a whole.
He appealed to the collective conscience of the Islamic world and the international community at large to come to the help of the Somali people.
"We will not stand by and watch. We will do what we can to help our Somali brothers. Hopefully our meeting today will give hope to the Somali people," said the prime minister.
He also called on Sheikh Ahmed to take measures to ensure peace and stability in Somalia.
He said that Turkey is ready to show its support to Somalia. He would lead Turkish government delegation to travel to Somalia on Thursday.
He also declared that Turkey will bid to host the second meeting on Somalia in 2012.
Sheikh Ahmed presented a sad picture of Somalia to the OIC representatives at the meeting, saying: "we are fighting disease and starvation. We thank contributions from Islamic countries."
He appealed to the world to take Turkey as an example and provide aid to Somalia as duty of humanitarian.
The representatives talked about boosting assistance to drought- stricken Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa region and agreed on how to transport the aid to Somalia and to set up a task force to maintain awareness about the country.
"We are here today to find ways to end the growing misery faced by more than 4 million Somalis who are on the verge of death due to starvation," said Ihsanoglu.
"Our three main objectives today were to create awareness in the Islamic world about Somalia, to establish mechanisms for the transfer of aid and to create a task force. We succeeded in all of it," said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the press conference.
According to the United Nations, more than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa need food aid.
But the situation has become more grave in Somalia because al- Qaida-linked militants have banned many aid organizations from distributing food in the areas under their control.
Sheikh Ahmed thanked all the countries that have come to their aid, adding that terrorism remains one of the most difficult problems facing Somalia.
The U.N. estimates that 2.2 million Somalis who need food aid lived outside the capital in areas controlled by the rebels.
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