Under the sponsorship of the foreign minister, Ash-Sheikh Dr. Muhammad As-Sabbah, International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) inaugurated a conference to discuss the dimensions of humanitarian crisis in the African Horn. This conference is the second workshop for exchanging information about how to eliminate the crisis of Somalia.
The inauguration was attended by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Khalid Al-Jarallah, on behalf of the foreign minister as well as the president of IICO, Dr. Abdullah Al-Ma’touk and a number of diplomats.
The president of IICO, Dr. Abdullah Al-Ma’touk, said, “In this humanitarian conference which deals with the affairs of the poor and the afflicted people, we find that we have many duties. Our first and foremost duties are taking necessary and effective partnership steps to support the Somali people, lifting the siege of poverty and famine, helping the Somali people to re-build their country and saving millions of patients and homeless in Somalia who suffer from drought and die because of hunger and thirst. We don’t need to emphasize that helping the Somali people is an international responsibility and not restricted to Arab or Islamic countries only”
Dr. Abdullah Al-Ma’touk added, “We offered consecutive immediate relief convoys to the victims in Somalia under the directions of his Excellency the prince of Kuwait, Ash-Sheikh Sabbah Al-Ahmad; and we will continue offering relief to Somali people in cooperation with the concerned organizations inside and outside the country”. Al-Ma’touk said, “This important meeting is held for discussing means of coordination, cooperation and exchange of information to help facing the famine dangers in the Horn of Africa. These objectives are reached within the framework of actions taken in the field of supporting the efforts of voluntary organizations and enhancing their relationships with the international organizations working in humanitarian and charitable field, on top of which is the UN, in order to face the challenges of poverty, famine and disease in the region of the Horn of Africa”.
Al-Ma’touk emphasized that this meeting places today more responsibility on the attendees to discuss and study these issues and reach a realistic vision and plan which offer effective humanitarian contributions to help the humanitarian organizations perform their role and alleviate the impacts of this horrible humanitarian crisis of Somalia.
Al-Ma’touk added, “In IICO, we seek to build the bridges of cooperation and coordinate between these organizations and the United Nations programs. We also pursue to establish the practical frameworks for achieving serious and productive cooperation and mutual goals and enhancing humanitarian and international partnership with the United Nations where charitable work is no longer restricted to traditional relief efforts, but it also plays a main role in developing communities and enhancing the quality of their lives”.
On his part, Khalid Al- Jarallah , Foreign Ministry Undersecretary and the party sponsor’s representative, said that the African affair was not distant from Kuwait policy, as the African continent was in the core of the Kuwait policy to handle the African developmental obstacles. Thus, Kuwait offered loans, donations and gifts to put an end to poverty and chronic diseases there. Also, he pointed out to the Kuwait Fund’s effective role in the African continent where our first duties were to support the African Horn in general and Somalia in particular to rescue millions of people who suffered from drought and starvation.
He also clarified that this issue is regarded as an international responsibility, rather than Islamic or Arab world, where the Kuwait was the forerunner of providing aids to these states by virtue of His Highness directives; where the cabinet allocated 10 million dollars and, in this respect, entrusted the Kuwait Red Crescent Society with sending an airplane fleet. He mentioned that the Kuwait Foreign Ministry is seeking to earn the African Union Membership as a supervisor, and the ministry is engaged with opening many embassies in these countries to establish and strengthen the bilateral relations.
He also indicated that Kuwait responded to the conference held in Addis Ababa in which organizers declared that 300 million dollars were gathered to face the catastrophe. He pointed out that Kuwait plays a role in supporting the development as His Highness, the Prince, submitted an initiative to set up a fund for honorable life estimated by 100 million dollars. Also, Kuwait denoted great financial amounts for other many developmental funds. On her part, the Valerie Amos, UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that we see Palestine is still occupied as we see Somalia suffers from famine and we always try to save the souls.
Valerie Amos confirmed that the Gulf Countries play a significant role in the development of charitable organizations. She also has worked on the coordination between the organizations and institutions in order to bring in some kind of cooperation that is enough to help us save souls as much as possible.
Valerie Amos pointed out that the humanitarian work requires hard work and employing many officials. Moreover, she emphasized that such cooperation must reap its benefits in the future. She works on coordinating with organizations representing the member countries that showed generosity and provided aids to Somalia.
She added, “we need to intensify our efforts and adopt a more powerful humanitarian relief system”. She said that Europe has founded many institutions specialized in humanitarian action and Kuwait provided aids to the afflicted countries. Hence, international cooperation became necessary for helping the African Horn.
Dr. Abdel Latif Al-Ziani, Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), in turn said that despite the cruelty of this human tragedy, it unveiled the kind nature of the benevolent humans and proved that joining forces and standing by the weak people are intrinsic characteristics in the benevolent nations.
He pointed out that countries of the council many decades ago shouldered the responsibility of rendering generous and unreserved help to others. Furthermore, they took the initiative of establishing aid bridges to the countries of the African Horn to abate the human crisis for which these countries join forces.
He continued that the countries of the council are looking forward to exerting more international efforts to face the crises undergone by many countries in the world. This is not restricted to facing these problems only, but it extends to limiting their consequences before they take place as well as setting up mechanisms for delivering these aids to whomever deserve it and exchanging experiences and knowledge between both governmental and non-governmental charitable organizations to render effective aid.
He assured that though being in dire need of humanitarian efforts of countries, organizations and individuals they remain insufficient. Rather, the whole region must be aided to retrieve its needed vitality to face crises and come back to life.
Laila Negm, Director of Health and Humanitarian Aid Department and Technical Trusteeship Official of the Council of Arab Ministers of Health, stated that this conference stressed that the international organization is convinced with the importance of partnership regarding the humanitarian action. She pointed out that the United Nations took fast steps to declare a humanitarian call directed to humanitarian organizations in the Arab countries to help Somalia and coordinate their efforts rapidly with the United Nations. She also referred to the United Nations appropriation of $500,000 to be delivered to Somalia by the Arab League. Now, the international organization is making its preparations to hold a meeting for Somalia Committee to discuss the crisis politically, make a plan to overcome the consequences of the draught disaster and prepare health programs for the expatriates, pointing out that what we need nowadays is to keep our positive cooperation and to exert more peace efforts.
Atta’ Manan Bekhit, Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, stated that this conference has a very important significance since it is held in Kuwait; the country that offered the most generous humanitarian support in the outset of Somali crisis that was a real test for the international conscience. He called for the partnership in Somalia crisis to be set as an example for a partnership that can save so many souls.
Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Mehilan, Vice Chief of the Board of Directors of Direct Aid Society, said that he established Direct Aid Society 30 years ago and devoted its efforts to develop African communities. He managed to open 28 offices for the Society in Africa as well as 3 universities.
He added that the Society gave instructions to 56 centers for children nutrition in Somalia and Kenya to serve 27,000 mother and child in these two countries. He revealed that the Society sent medications and relief materials to help the government, representing a real effective partnership. He continued that their extended existence in Africa enabled them to build a partnership with the Somali people which made the task of delivering reliefs easier.
He referred to the necessity of providing food aid to whomever need it on the basis of delivering this aid before anyone meets his death regardless of the complexity of any needed political efforts. He illustrated the efforts of the Society to dig 50 artesian well in addition to supporting agricultural projects that women have interest in.
Furthermore, He called for a partnership to establish educational projects between the donors and civil organizations to shift African communities from the role of the recipients and beneficiaries to the role of the participants.