Turkey, Africa

'Erdogan visit played pivotal tole for Somalia'

Mevlut Cavusoglu has written an article on the East African country as 3-day London Somalia Conference begins

11.05.2017
'Erdogan visit played pivotal tole for Somalia' Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud (L) inspect military guard during an official welcoming ceremony at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu, Somalia on June 3, 2016. (Kayhan Özer - Anadolu Agency)

By Meltem Bulur, Sultan Cogalan and Ugur Cil

ANKARA

Turkey's foreign minister said he saw Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Somalia in 2011 as a pivotal moment for Somalia and a "historic message" to its people and the world.

Mevlut Cavusoglu made these remarks in an article entitled "An enterprising and humanitarian policy for Somalia" on the sidelines of the three-day Somalia Conference in London, which will discuss the eastern African country's future through 2020.

"At a time when Somalian people had almost lost all hope in their future, the president had reassured them that Turkey believed in the future of Somalia and that Somalians would not walk alone. And, just when no world leader dared to visit Mogadishu in two decades and no country committed to help, President Erdogan led the way," Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu pointed out Turkey's help in infrastructure: roads, a hospital, an airport, a harbor as well as the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital Cavusoglu.

He said: "Turkey has embraced all of Somalia and all Somalians and has done this earnestly."

The foreign minister expressed confidence in the Somali regular army's ability to eliminate the terror organization al-Shabaab.

"Turkey will fully operationalize the Anadolu Military Training Center in September this year. We hope that officers and soldiers will be trained at this center and others will form the muscle of the Somali government to defeat al-Shabaab terrorism."

Cavusoglu also addressed the ongoing drought in the region.

"As we look at the predictable and committed long-term support of the international community, we must not forget the immediate needs of over 6 million Somalians for urgent food assistance," he added.

He said Turkey launched an aid campaign for drought-hit East Africa in March under Erdogan's leadership.

"The Turkish Red Crescent is mobilizing to deliver significant food assistance before the approaching month of Ramadan. The drought impacts not only Somalia and the international community must act rapidly to provide similar assistance to all of Eastern Africa which is afflicted by the drought," he said.

"I am grateful that the U.K. and the UN have heeded Turkey's long-time call to engage in efforts to assist Somalia's normalization," he said, referring to the London Somalia Conference.

"In the economic field, Turkey has already contributed over $600 million to Somalia's development projects," noted the foreign minister.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is representing Turkey at the Somalia conference.

Somalia is currently in the grip of an extensive drought, which has also struck several countries in the East African region.

The country also suffers from poverty issues. The estimated number of malnourished children has risen by 50 percent to 1.4 million since the beginning of 2017, according to UNICEF.

The UN also says at least 615,000 people have been displaced in Somalia since 2016 by the drought; 40,000 Somali children have stopped attending school.

Last month, Turkey and Somalia signed deals to boost cultural centers and develop cooperation during a visit by the Somali leader to Ankara.

Turkish Airlines also launched a campaign this year to aid the East African country, transporting humanitarian supplies to Mogadishu.

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