3rd Kuwaiti aid plane heads to drought-stricken Somalia Islamic aid groups meet in Istanbul

KUWAIT CITY, July 28, (Agencies): A third Kuwaiti plane loaded with humanitarian aid headed Thursday to drought-stricken Somalia. Media Officer of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS), which organizes the trips, Khalid Al-Zaid told KUNA that the plane took off from Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Base early Thursday carrying food, medicine, baby-milk formulas and tents. “The new move comes in implementation of the directives of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to show Kuwaiti people’s solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Somalia and to contribute to efforts aiming at alleviating their sufferings,” he said. He stressed that KRCS was one of the first organizations to move to help victims of drought in Somalia.

“The KRCS has launched an urgent airlift to offer humanitarian aid to Somalia and has purchased ship’s load of 2,500 tons of rice and distributed them there,” Al-Zaid noted. “The KRCS is keen to participate in the efforts aiming to save millions of Somali people, who are facing one of the worst droughts due to lack of seasonal rains, depletion of water and rivers and the lack of developmental mechanisms.” He added that the KRCS will enhance its presence in Somalia to oversee the distribution of aid and to meet different needs of those affected. The KRCS praised the efforts of Acting Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah to launch and monitor relief airlift to Somalia.

Meanwhile, member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) gathered in Istanbul Thursday to coordinate an emergency response to the devastating drought in Somalia. “In such a large-scale disaster, we need to join hands together and to act collectively so as to counter the spread of the calamity and to save as many lives as we possibly can,” OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu of Turkey told a meeting of the organisation’s relief aid agencies.
“For this reason, we call for the establishment of a large coalition under the banner of the OIC to address the emergency situation in Somalia and the Horn of Africa in general,” he added.
Non-governmental organisations agreed at the meeting to let the OIC coordinate the humanitarian efforts of its 57 member countries.
The United Nations last week officially declared famine in two parts of southern Somalia, as the world slowly mobilised to help 12 million people battling hunger in the region’s worst drought in 60 years. Tens of thousands have died.
Turkish Muslim charity IHH said at the meeting it would send 3,000 tonnes of humanitarian assistance to Somalia shortly, while Saudi Arabia pledged a $60-million (42-million-euro) contribution and Kuwait another $10 million.
The OIC would start by distributing aid to some 40,000 people in the Afgooye corridor near Mogadishu under an agreement with the World Food Programme, said Ihsanoglu.

More than 60,000 people were already benefiting from OIC aid.
The OIC head called on warring Somali factions “to immediately stop all hostilities during the holy month of Ramadan and to allow access to all humanitarian actors without distinction whatsoever so as to enable them to freely reach out to all the needy populations.”
The OIC has a humanitarian aid office in the Somali capital Mogadishu and is one of the rare bodies allowed to operate in Somalia by Islamist Shebab rebels there.
“I call on the entire community of believers ... to contribute generously to the humanitarian campaign led by the OIC, especially in this month of Ramadan, a month of generosity and giving,” added Ihsanoglu.
Somalia, which has suffered almost uninterrupted conflict for 20 years and become a byword for “failed state”, is the nation worst affected by the drought but parts of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti are also hit.

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