x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Red Crescent Authority appeal aims to help starving millions

The Red Crescent Authority has launched a three-day telethon with actors and singers to raise money for Somalia.

A Somali refugee washes her children after receiving rations at a refugee camp in Dadaab. Proceeds from the telethon will be sent on a relief ship carrying 400,000 tonnes of food, clothese and medical supplies to the famine-hit country.
A Somali refugee washes her children after receiving rations at a refugee camp in Dadaab. Proceeds from the telethon will be sent on a relief ship carrying 400,000 tonnes of food, clothese and medical supplies to the famine-hit country.

DUBAI // The Red Crescent Authority's national fundraising telethon to help millions of people facing starvation in the Horn of Africa begins tomorrow.

Suqyahum (quenching your thirst) is aimed at collecting cash, food, medicine and blankets. It will be telecast in Arabic from tomorrow on Abu Dhabi Television and other local channels.

For the next three days, Red Crescent Authority (RCA) officials, humanitarian experts, clerics, singers and actors will urge viewers to donate generously during Ramadan to the famine-hit region. The star-studded telethon will run from 9.30pm until 11pm tomorrow, and at the same time on Thursday and Friday.

"The purpose of the campaign is to raise cash, food and medicines to the victims suffering from the drought," said Mohammed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, the RCA's deputy secretary general for local affairs. He said the campaign was being spread over three days to inform viewers and ensure their participation.

Suqyahum will feature interviews with the Emirati singer Hussain Al Jasmi and the Kuwaiti actors Tareq Al Ali, Ibrahim Al Harbi and Hayat Al Fahad. The telethon will also feature on-air calls from viewers.

"They will discuss the situation in Somalia and encourage donations," Mr Al Hammadi said.

The proceeds will be sent on a UAE relief ship carrying 400,000 tonnes of food, clothes and medical supplies to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

"It is time for locals to show support to those people suffering and waiting for our help," said Dr Saleh Al Taee, the secretary general adviser. "It is an appeal to companies, medical companies, factories, rich people and individuals to help. If there are more donations, we can send more ships."

Officials said the campaign had set no targets, but was hoping to raise as much as possible, especially in cash. The agency regularly holds telethons to help people affected by disasters. Last year, it raised more than Dh85 million for the Pakistan floods. It has previously held telethons to help people in Palestine.

The event will be telecast on Abu Dhabi Emirates and local channels in each emirate.

"We will have a call centre for Red Crescent and they will receive calls," said Abdulraheem Al Bateeh, the director of news at Abu Dhabi Television. "There will be calls taken on air, and officials will talk on the situation and facts about Somalia. A case study of a victim will also be telecast. We would like to raise as much as we can. Somalia really needs our help."

The network will interview people against the backdrop of the call centre.

The RCA and other local organisations were prompted into action after Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, ordered them to provide emergency relief.

A delegation was sent in July to assess the crisis, which has left millions malnourished, dehydrated and sick. More than 29,000 children are estimated to have died of hunger in the last few weeks. The situation has been compounded by ongoing violence.

The RCA, which has branches in Mogadishu and the Somalian city of Hargeisa, has been providing aid to Somalia since 1993, and has since spent over Dh120m in assisting people with food and water. Another Dh4m has been spent in the last few weeks alone.

pkannan@thenational.ae