OIC vows to donate $350m to Somalia
Istanbul - Members of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation promised to donate $350m as a relief for famine that has hit Somalia, in an emergency meeting here on Wednesday.
"We said we aimed [to collect] $500m. We are committed $350m today," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish general secretary of the OIC, said in a press meeting as the gathering closed.
The promised amount included $150m that Turkey has thus far collected in its domestic campaigns for Somalia, Ihsanoglu said.
The United Nations has declared that $1bn is needed for Somalia, and the international community only pledged half of it, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his opening remarks.
Representatives from some 40 OIC member countries, out of 57, convened in Istanbul to discuss how to boost aid to Somalia.
All member countries also vowed to contribute to the Somalian fund that was founded under the OIC secretariat, said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Kazakhistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and the OIC constituted a special group dedicated to follow Somalia and coordinate the aid campaigns, he added.
"We decided to have aid campaigns in all Islamic countries," Davutoglu said.
The Islamic world would "actively take part" in finding a solution for the domestic tensions in Somalia, he added.
Food security mechanism
Turkey is going to reopen its embassy in Mogadishu that it closed in 1991 due to security reasons, Davutoglu said.
Kazakhistan, the term chair of the OIC, also offered to establish a food security mechanism to prevent future famines in the Horn of Africa, Kazakhistan's Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov said.
"The OIC secretariat will open bank accounts in different countries for individual donations to Somalia," Kazykhanov said.
Turkey, which called on the OIC to hold an emergency meeting, had sent a cargo plane carrying a field hospital and 30 tons of aid to the drought-hit country.
"There is a fire in Somalia and what's urgent is to extinguish that fire," Erdogan said, inviting Muslim countries as well as strong economies of the world to extend a helping hand to the people of Somalia.
President Abdullah Gul met his counterpart from Somalia, Sharif Ahmed, on the sidelines of the OIC meeting and said the tragedy in Somalia needed attention.
Erdogan is due to leave for the Somali capital Mogadishu on Thursday evening, with his wife and daughter, as well as Davutoglu and three other cabinet members and deputies from his ruling party, who will also be accompanied by their families.
They are to oversee on Friday the distribution of Turkish aid in refugee camps.
Danger of starvation
Turkey has already sent three planes carrying dozens of tons of food and medical supplies for Somalis during Ramadan.
Turkish television channels have been screening footage of the catastrophe unfolding in Africa to help drum up aid.
Since the arrival in power of Erdoban's Justice and Development Party, a moderate offshoot of a banned Islamist movement, Turkey has taken an increasing interest in Africa.
Ankara has been playing the role of regional leader and opened several embassies across the continent with the aim of finding new markets for products from the world's 17th biggest economy.
As a result of these initiatives, Turkey, Islam's main representative within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, also secured a seat as non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council in 2009-2010.
Turkey is angling to repeat the feat in 2015-2016.
Somalia is the country hardest hit by the drought that has affected people around the Horn of Africa region.
UN officials have said some 12 million people are in danger of starvation.