Ankara’s humanitarian aid, diplomatic support boost development in Somalia

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Mired in 30 years of civil war, Somalia has slowly begun to get back on its feet in the last decade – leaving behind instability and insecurity – with help of the Turkish government, businesses, and nongovernmental organizations.

Turkey easily stands out as the country most sensitive to the crisis in Somalia, which was affected by violence, famine and drought. Turkey’s unprecedented engagement in Somalia started in 2011 as a response to the catastrophic famine that ravaged the country.

In a bid to alleviate the conditions of its people and provide them with tangible development programs, Turkish NGOs and government organizations have provided significant amounts of humanitarian and development aid.

Turkish organizations, including the Turkish Red Crescent the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA), have so far provided aid worth more than $500 million, helping boost development in the country, according to Anadolu Agency (AA).

Turkey opened the Somali Agricultural School to raise agricultural engineers and awarded government scholarships to 118 Somalian students between 2016 and 2017.

Turkish Airlines has become the only airline to operate international flights to the country. The company also delivered 60 tons of aid to Somalia with its “#TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia” social media campaign in 2017.

Earlier in 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened a 200-bed training and research hospital in the country. It includes 12 intensive care units, 14 neonatal intensive care beds, 20 incubators, four operating rooms, a delivery room, and radiology and laboratory units, within 13,500 square meters of indoor space.

Turkey’s support for Somalia is not limited to just physical or material assistance but also involves diplomatic and military assistance. After the decades-long civil war, which effectively rendered Somalia a failed state, most developed countries have shied away from opening embassies or posting diplomats in the country. Turkey, in comparison, opened embassies in Mogadishu in 2011 and in Hargeisa in 2014, after its closure in 1991 due to violent civil war in the country.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) set up a training base in the Somali capital in September 2017 in a bid to train the Somalian National Army. Once the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) withdraws from the country by 2020 as planned, soldiers trained by Turkey will play an important role in establishing safety and security in the country.

Over the years, Somalia has also been affected by severe droughts and famines. The famine in 2017, which was expected to surpass that of 2011, led to the starvation of thousands of people. Somalia was one of four regions – along with Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen – singled out by the U.N. earlier in 2017 in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine.

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