A common relief fund of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries will be established on Kazakhstan’s initiative to help the Somali people on the edge of a food crisis. This was announced on August 17 by Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister and Chairman of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) Yerzhan Kazykhanov, following an OIC emergency meeting in Istanbul, during which member-countries discussed ways to resolve the humanitarian and political crisis in Somalia.
On August 17, Ministerial Executive Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an emergency meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, to decide on the possible ways of rendering humanitarian and financial assistance by the OIC member states to help overcome the crisis in one of the poorest countries of the Muslim world - Somalia.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov chaired the meeting which was attended by Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, OIC Secretary General Ekhmeleddin Ihsanoglu, as well ministers and top government officials from 36 participating countries of the Organisation.
Today the OIC, which plays an important role in responding to humanitarian crisis in its zone of responsibility, is the only international organisation capable of delivering food and medicine to the entire population of Somalia.
Addressing the meeting, Kazakh Foreign Minister noted the famine in Somalia has reached catastrophic scales. Two decades of instability and the recent drought have caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the country.
“The problem is not limited to Somalia. In East Africa, 12 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance – in other words they are on the verge of starvation. In Ethiopia alone, there are four and a half million people without sufficient food and water. Refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia are overflowing,” he said.
In his speech, Yerzhan Kazykhanov mentioned the particular urgency of the proposals of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to create a food security system within the OIC, which was announced in June during the 38th session of the OIC CFM.
“As we discussed at the recent Ministerial in Astana, more attention needs to be devoted to food and water security throughout the Ummah. Let me stress the validity of proposal of President of Kazakhstan to devise an OIC system of food security. We believe that along with issues of immediate relief we must think of building long term drought resilience”, Kazykhanov underscored.
In addition, the head of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said the decision by Astana Ministerial to establish the Trust Fund for Somalia offers a possibility to pursue four middle term goals identified by OIC – food security, health, access to drinking water and economic reconstruction.
Kazykhanov also highly commended the OIC Secretary General’s proposal to launch a wide public campaign during the Holy month of Ramadan aimed at raising donations to help the people of Somalia.
In his words, this will become a true manifestation of Islamic solidarity not only among governments of the OIC member states, but among ordinary Muslims.
“I applaud the initiative taken by the OIC Coalition for Relief. I echo the appeal to the Islamic Ummah made by Secretary-General Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu to join the OIC alliance to relieve Somalia”, Kazykhanov contended.
Regarding the issue of political solution in Somalia, the Minister said the OIC should promote and intensify international efforts to stabilise the political and improve the humanitarian situation in the country.
“At the same time, we need to consider how the OIC can play a more active role in addressing the underlining vulnerabilities that have caused this human tragedy”, Kazykhanov said.
Furthermore, Kazakh Foreign Minister called on the OIC to encourage greater international efforts to stabilize the situation in Somalia: for the sake of bringing peace to this long-troubled country; improving the humanitarian situation; fighting piracy; and promoting regional stability. The resolution on the situation in Somalia adopted at the 38th session of the CFM in Astana contains a number of concrete proposals in this regard.
“It is worth recalling that in the Astana Declaration, OIC Member States called for efforts to strengthen and enhance the role of the OIC in conflict prevention and resolution. Somalia would be a good place to start. This is a test of how the OIC can respond to a crisis, and how we can promote Peace, Cooperation and Development in one of the poorest and most unstable Muslim countries in the world”, Kazykhanov stressed.
Following the results of the meeting, the Istanbul Declaration was adopted aimed at mobilising humanitarian and financial assistance to the countries of East Africa and implementing the OIC special assistance programme to the people of Somalia amounting to more than US$ 350 million.
While in Istanbul, Yerzhan Kazykhanov also held a number of bilateral meetings, including with Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Zalmai Rassoul, Secretary General of the Turkic Council Halil Akıncı, and OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.
World media monitoring