Turkey sets a global example in Mogadishu, says UN official

Erdogan--Mogadishu
Former Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Mogadishu in August 2011

High-level Turkish delegates led by then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Mogadishu, the Somali Capital, on August 19, 2011. The visit was intended to provide humanitarian aid to the city as well as plan the reconstruction of roads, hospitals and buildings, but more importantly, it was intended to attract the attention of the world to Somalia, as the country has suffered from severe famines for many years.

The comprehensive involvement of Turkey in Somalia has made visible changes to the country in many areas from health to infrastructure. Roads and hospitals were built, destroyed buildings were reconstructed, schools were opened, Somali Police were trained in Turkey, trade and investment have increased and Turkish Airlines began flying to Mogadishu. From the Turkish Red Crescent and the Istanbul Municipality, to private sector investment and government funding programs, Turkey has brought different resources together to aid Somalia in every possible way.

Turkey’s struggle to develop the country has also paid off. Today, the effort inspired humanitarian organizations that work on refugee issues, and as a result, the world’s first Innovation and Planning Agency (IPA) in a refugee camp was established in Jordan. The co-founder of the agency and former U.N. head of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, Kilian Klleinschmidt, said Turkey’s efforts in Mogadishu has set a global example.

“The helps made by the municipality of Istanbul has been very effective in Mogadishu. Turkey, so to speak, brought the city of Istanbul to Mogadishu, including engineers and technicians but also equipment. You have the Turkish Red Crescent engaging in humanitarian work, but you also had the Health Ministry and other ministries bringing in the experts to help with the reconstruction of the city. Also, you have the private sector engaging in a number of contraction projects on behalf of the Turkish government but also in terms of investment in the country. So, even though that had nothing to do with traditional humanitarian aid, it has been very effective regardless. This should become a global model for bringing needed resources together that are high quality and that can also be deployed quickly,” Klienschmidt said.

According to Kleinschmidt, the IPA collects and guides resources, expertise and ideas from all sectors as Turkey has done in Somalia. “We are trying to identify capacities and resources in the private sector, municipalities and local governments, research and science in universities and in the finance. Currently, resources may not be used properly or there are not enough to be available to help in refugee camps. There is a lot of this out there that is not the traditional humanitarian aid,” Kleinschmidt emphasized.

Kleinshmidt said that it is now an obligation for all of us to think about and find different ways to do our work and that humanitarian organizations are currently struggling because government funding to humanitarian operations is insufficient for many places in the world since so much is happening, from South Sudan and the Central African Republic to Syria, surrounding countries and Ukraine.

“The reality is that most of the time, refuge crises last many years. When I think about all the refugee camps I have been involved with over the last 25 years, most of them are still exist. The camps in Kenya, for instance, and Kakuma camp for Sudanese refugees – the first camp I built when I first started working with the United Nations in 1992. Now, almost 200,000 refugees in Kakuma are still there. In Dadaab camp, there are 350,000 refugees still there and that was also built in 1992. There are many examples of displacement or refugee camps that still exist. Therefore, we need to invest in new and different ways for these places that unfortunately do not disappear after six months,” Kleinschmidt said.

Source: Daily Sabah

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