ANKARA: Somalia’s president on Wednesday called for assistance from Turkey to combat the effects of severe drought that is threatening the Horn of Africa.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud made the comments during his first visit to Turkey since returning to office following an election in May. The two countries have forged close ties over the past decade.
“The humanitarian situation caused by the drought was one of the issues we discussed in our meeting with (Turkish) President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan,” Mohamud told reporters following a meeting with the Turkish leader.
He said: “I would like to take this opportunity to call upon our Turkish brothers to support us and do what they can, as they did before. Your solidarity and support will save the lives of the Somali people and will never be forgotten.”
Some areas of the Horn of Africa could be declared in famine within weeks because of the driest drought in the region in decades.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has abruptly drawn millions of dollars away from other crises and Somalia, facing a food shortage largely driven by the war, might be the most vulnerable.
Erdogan visited Somalia in 2011, amid a severe drought and devastating famine as Turkey sought to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa. The visit marked the start of Turkish humanitarian, development and infrastructure projects in Somalia. Turkey also established a military base in Somalia to train Somali soldiers.
“The Somali state and its people see Turkey and the Turkish people as true friends who support our efforts for development and stability in our country and stand by us,” Mohamud said in comments that were translated into Turkish.
Erdogan said Turkey’s humanitarian and development assistance to Somalia in the past decade has exceeded $1 billion.
Turkey has trained about 5,000 soldiers and 1,000 special forces police, he said, adding that Turkey would continue to support Somalia’s “stability and security.”