World, Africa

Turkish soup kitchen feeds over 3,000 people in Somalia

Turkish Red Crescent delegation head says organization operating in country since 2011 when Somalia suffered deadly famine

Mohammed Dhaysane   | 16.01.2022
Turkish soup kitchen feeds over 3,000 people in Somalia Turkish soup kitchen feeds over 3,000 people in Somalia. Photo: Mohamed Dhaysane - Anadolu Agency

MOGADISHU, Somalia

A soup kitchen in the Somali capital run by the Turkish Red Crescent feeds 3,150 people daily and distributes food to many parts of Mogadishu.

The Turkish humanitarian organization has been working in the drought-stricken country since 2011 when Somalia was witnessing one of the deadliest famines in decades.

It started operating in Somalia after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then-prime minister, paid a visit to the country, becoming the first non-African leader to do so in more than two decades and the visit opened the eyes of the international community.

The visit paved the way for Turkish humanitarian groups to operate in Somalia, helping its infrastructure, health sector, education, and humanitarian services and contributing to the country's economic growth.

Since then, the Turkish Red Crescent has been operating in Somalia, especially in nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation, education, and other fields, according to its head of delegation Orhan Kokcu, who spoke to Anadolu Agency at Turkiye’s Embassy in Mogadishu.

Kokcu said the group has sent three major ships to the country since 2011 with 10,000 tons of food, medicine, and other assistance to extend a helping hand to "Somali brothers and sisters" in need.

After cooking is finished in the soup kitchen, he said staff distributes meals throughout the capital.

"Our soup kitchen that produces meals for 3,150 people daily throughout Mogadishu, continues to work actively. Generally, distribution is made to orphanages, disability centers, and some (internally displaced people) camps. We distribute to 19 points in total," said Kokcu.

The kitchen has created jobs for Mogadishu residents as it has 14 permanent staff members who wake up to cook food along with a vehicle to carry the food to distribution points.

The Turkish Red Crescent is in a structure that pioneers Turkish organizations that want to help in Somalia, he said.

Water wells

The organization said it also helps people in the Sool region, Somalia's breakaway region.

It established a water well benefiting more than 5,000 people and their livestock and is now planning to dig another deep-water well in the region.

"In the near future, we will build a new deep-water well in the Sool region in the north and I also plan to visit Puntland in February to promote health and awareness against the current ongoing coronavirus pandemic," said Kokcu.

He said Turkiye has been helping Somalia fight COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

"We have distributed health materials, including face masks, oxygen, breathing machines, and ventilators, and handed them over to the Somali Health Ministry," he added.

Orphanage school renovation

The group is also currently renovating the Mogadishu Orphanage school that houses more than 200 children who receive their meals from the Turkish Red Crescent.

"We are now completing the renovation of the orphanage within this month and this is made possible by the family of late Sakarya region Governor Huseyin Avni Cos after they made donations and requested to renovate an orphanage school in Somalia," said Kokcu.

He also said the group is conducting a tailoring course for female prisoners at the Mogadishu central prison, the largest in the country.

Female prisoners are expected to be self-employed after the course is completed. They are given a new sewing machine after release and the Turkish group also helps them contribute to their home economy.

"We visit new mothers and their babies through hospital visits every week. We give them our gift packages prepared for newborn babies. We are really active in many fields and we are happy to help our Somali brothers and sisters and will continue helping them," he said.

Ramadan distribution

The group said it always doubles its humanitarian activities in Somalia during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Turkish Red Cross distributed meat to Somali people last Ramadan, especially to those facing food insecurity.

"Over 75,000 meat packages, five kilograms (11 pounds) each, were donated and we will do the same in the upcoming Ramadan," said Kokcu.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.