Organization of Islamic Cooperation meets on Somalia in Istanbul

AFP , Wednesday 17 Aug 2011

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation will hold an emergency meeting of foreign minister in Istanbul to dicuss the drought and famine crisis in Africa

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation(OIC)

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) holds an emergency meeting of foreign ministers in Istanbul on Wednesday on the drought and famine ravaging the Horn of Africa.

The OIC, which groups 57 Muslim countries and is currently chaired by a Turk, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, will discuss how to boost aid to the countries worst affected.

The meeting was requested by Turkey, which has mobilised to go to the aid of the victims.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to leave for the Somali capital Mogadishu on Thursday, with his wife and daughter, as well as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, also accompanied by his family.

They are to oversee the distribution of Turkish aid in refugee camps.

Turkey has already sent three planes carrying dozens of tonnes of food and medical supplies for Somalis during the Muslim holy month of ramadan.

Turkish television channels have been screening footage of the catastrophe unfolding in Africa to help drum up aid.

More than 80 million euros has already been collected in various campaigns, including a marathon television broadcast headed up by top personalities in politics and cinema, the emergency situations' office said.

Since the arrival in power of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), an moderate offshoot of a banned Islamist movement, Turkey has taken an increasing interest in Africa.

Ankara has been playing the role of regional leader and opened several embassies across the continent with the aim of finding new markets for products from the world's 17th biggest economy.

As a result of these initiatives, Turkey, Islam's main representative within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, also secured a seat as non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council in 2009-2010.

Turkey is angling to repeat the feat in 2015-2016.

Somalia is the country hardest hit by a drought that has affected people around the Horn of Africa region.

UN officials have said some 12 million people are in danger of starvation.

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