Somalia Relief 5

Dear Brothers,
Dear Members of FIMA fraternity,

Assalamu alaikum.

I would like to give you a short summary of the DWW’s (Doctors Worldwide) activities on the famine and drought crisis in Africa and the developments on the field:

Last weekend, I paid a 24-hour visit to Mogadishu/Somalia with our Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. During this visit, we personally witnessed the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Due to the shortage of time and strict security measures applied to the Prime Minister’s delegation, I could not meet up with SOYDA Representative Dr. Abdiqani Sheikh Omar, although we had previously agreed to meet. However, right after my return, our delegation of three people who went to Mogadishu representing DWW had contacts with Dr. Abdiqani about the details of the FIMA/IMANA/Islamic Relief joint relief efforts.

The sights I saw during my Mogadishu visit have engraved on my soul. I experienced in Mogadishu what it is like to be ashamed of being human. I have seen many places on Earth that have become the homes of poverty and deprivation: grave houses in Cairo; Sana’s poverty-stricken ghettos in Yemen; bitter lives in tin homes abandoned to their faiths in Soweto/Johannesburg; camps of freedom fighters in the Kashmiri mountains; thatched shacks in the deserts of Niger under which children, whose only food is millet, have to sleep; Palestinean refugee camps where misery is on every corner; Rio’s rebellious ghettos, Masai villages in Kenyan desert where people have not met civilization… None of them, but none of them, could be compared with the inexpressible misery I witnessed in the refugee camps in Mogadishu the other day. What are agonizing there are not only those innocent people, but also the whole humanity itself. Nowhere I have seen or have not seen on Earth, people would starve to death with tears in their eyes. Death I saw in Somalia was a dark trap between famine and guns. Wherever you ran, the result was the same: to die or to die…

Tens of thousands of people; babies, children, the young and the old, women and men… Gathered in camps surrounded by barbed wire, where garbage, sewage, diseases and misery are everywhere… Living without a bath for months, without food for days, and without a smile for years… If you can call it living… A family or two in shacks made of sticks tied with rags and tatters, in which even one person would hardly fit in… Food, water, hygiene, medicine, vaccination, affection, attention… Deprived of all these basic human needs, they feel the breath of death down their necks. The whole world is watching as if it is watching a movie or a ghost with bated breath. From a distance, and in a sterile way… But we enter this monotonous world of theirs; touch their skins, bodies, hands and faces; bundle up their poorness and hopelessness even if for a short time; and embrace their babies and elders with love and affection, and without hesitation. Those innocent faces light up for a moment, and then roll back into darkness like a flash in the pan or bubbles of foam disappearing. The beautiful people of the country of inexpressible sufferings… Day and night, we pray for them.

The DWW has been working in the region in full capacity and by all available means since the beginning of the crisis. Both in and around the Garissa/Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, in Somalia, and in Mogadishu in particular, we have been striving to distribute food and humanitarian aid on one hand, and to provide medical service on the other. Within the framework of these efforts, we have delivered cooked food of iftar to thousands of refugees in the Dadaab region everyday since the beginning of Ramadan, also delivered dry food packages to Somali refugees in Kenya, and sent medical aid worth $500,000 to Mogadishu. In addition, in an orphanage in Mombasa/Kenya, called Khadija Center, every day 400 poor people are being served cooked food for iftar. Also, four teams of DWW volunteers, with two doctors in each team, went to Dadaab/Kenya and Mogadishu so far. A team of five DWW members, including our Vice President, is going to Mogadishu this weekend to spend the Eid ul-Fitr there as well.

In parallel with the fact that the Republic of Turkey has mobilized all its resources, and Prime Minister Erdogan’s special interest in the issue, the Prime Minister personally assigned the DWW as the coordinator of the medical aid efforts in Somalia. All medical aid provided to Somalia by our Ministry of Health, the Turkish Red Crescent, TIKA, and Turkish civil society organizations is and will be carried out under our coordination or within our knowledge. In addition to this big responsibility, we have also reached the final stage in our negotiations with the ministries of health of Kenya and Somalia to obtain licenses and take over the operation of two hospitals, two basic health units and a malnutrition centre in Somalia and in Dadaab region of Kenya, that will start operating within the next few weeks. We are going to sign the contracts in the upcoming days. We are going to operate these medical centres for at least one year, employing local doctors and nurses, and supporting them with the volunteer health professionals of DWW both from Turkey and UK.

In addition to all these efforts, and as I previously mentioned, we, as an integral part of the FIMA family, will partake with all our available means in the joint FIMA/IMANA/Islamic Relief aid activity that will start at the Mogadishu Banadir Hospital after the Eid. Right now, we are experiencing a boom in volunteer doctors in Turkey who are eager to go and serve in Somalia. Insha’Allah, a lot of our volunteers will provide medical service to the aggrieved Somalians at the Banadir Hospital, the schedule of which will be provided in due time.

Last but not the least; I would like to share a piece of good news that honoured us, and will significantly facilitate our aid activities in Somalia. Our Turkish friend Dr. Kani Torun, the Ex-CEO of the DWW-UK and member of the executive board of DWW-UK and founders’ committee of the DWW-Turkey at present, has been assigned as the first Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Somalia. We at the DWW are all proud and greatly empowered by the fact that a medical doctor has been assigned as ambassador to a country for the first time in the history of Turkey. Our brother Dr. Torun, who will take office in Mogadishu after the Eid, will also be serving as a moral representative for the FIMA.

Looking forward to seeing you all at the annual council meeting of FIMA in Jakarta in September.


M. Ihsan Karaman,MD
Chairman, DWW-Turkey
Hayat Foundation, Istanbul

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