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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Terror will not deter our aid to Somalia

An attack on an Emirates Red Crescent team near Mogadishu strengthens our resolve
More than six million people are facing a food crisis in Somalia. Antonie Robertson / The National
More than six million people are facing a food crisis in Somalia. Antonie Robertson / The National

For the third time in 25 years, Somalia is in the midst of a famine. More than six million people are facing a food crisis as drought has caused crops to fail and livestock to die. In a country already devastated by war, the famine could claim thousands of lives unless international aid organisations provide urgent help.

This crisis is not isolated. From north-eastern Nigeria to South Sudan and Somalia, large parts of Africa are experiencing drought and famine. According to United Nations estimates, more than 20 million people are affected, making it one of the largest food crises the organisation has faced since 1945. One country understands the dangers to civilian life and is responding with aid: the UAE.

Under the direction of the President, Sheikh Khalifa, a Dh500m “mission of mercy” was launched last week. The aid is earmarked for hundreds of thousands of Somalian children and their families affected by the famine. Sheikh Khalifa, who declared 2017 the Year of Giving, was backed in the call for aid by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

The aid campaign includes calls for donations and a countrywide telethon, which raised Dh165 million on Friday. During the Friday sermon last week, the imam encouraged worshippers to donate money to the campaign. “Our brotherly people of Somalia are experiencing a crisis that breaks the heart and makes the eye cry real tears,” the imam said. Make no mistake, delivering aid to a country as unstable as Somalia is not an easy task. Last Thursday, an aid convoy from the Emirates Red Crescent came under attack near Mogadishu. The team was in the capital to determine the immediate needs of people and deliver 10,000 food parcels in aid. There are another 200,000 food parcels for children and 50,000 for families currently making their way to Somalia on a special relief ship.

Thankfully, the bomb attack didn’t result in any causalities. It only served to strengthen the resolve of the UAE in assisting the people of Somalia during their time of desperate need. Given the scale of the crisis across Africa, the UAE’s example will need to be replicated by other countries to save lives on the ground. We look forward to spearheading efforts to help those on the ground and save lives.

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