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Al Maktoum aid targets thousands in north of Somalia

posted on 23/08/2011: 945 views

Six thousand families in Somalia will soon receive enough food to survive for three months thanks to a donation by the Al Maktoum Foundation.

Rice, sugar, oil and flour will be sent to the northern part of the country, where many of the hungry are arriving.

Foundation officials said many international aid agencies were already working to alleviate suffering in the south.

"Places like Somaliland are receiving little attention, but this needs to change immediately because there are too many displaced people there and surrounding areas," said Hamdan Mohamed, the cultural adviser at the Al Maktoum Foundation.

"This is a critical situation because people are fleeing the south and aid organisations must also focus their attention to places they are heading."

The first phase of distribution was set to begin last night and continue until Friday. The next phase will begin after Eid.

The Al Maktoum Foundation is the personal charity of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.

"Sheikh Hamdan is very affected by this situation," said Mr Mohamed. "It is not strange to see this type of charitable act from him. Wherever there is a problem, an emergency or a disaster that requires relief, Sheikh Hamdan acts immediately - like he did during the floods in Mozambique, the Asian tsunami and the crisis in Darfur."

The Al Maktoum Foundation has operations across Africa and two offices in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, and Bosaso.

"From Hargeisa, the aid will also cover the neighbouring cities of Borama and Burao. From Bosaso, we will be able also to help people in Galkacyo, Garowe and Gardo, for example," said Mr Mohamed. The two centres will reach a combined 6,000 families.

Al Tayeb Abdalla, the head of the Al Maktoum Foundation's office in the northern port city of Bosaso in Puntland State, said there were about 400,000 displaced people seeking refuge in nearby camps.

Speaking from Bosaso, Mr Abdalla said: "The camps are full, diarrhoea is a big problem and disease is spreading. Doctors, medical supplies and clean water are in dire need."

Once a month, for three months, families will receive 25 kilograms each of rice and flour, 10.5 litres of oil and 12.5kg of sugar. The value of the donation was not disclosed.

"Because of the sheer number of those displaced, we have to focus first on the most needy - including children, elderly and the sick," Mr Abdalla said.

He said it was not unusual for his team to see between 30 and 40 people living in the same makeshift shelter built from plastic or straw.

The cramped quarters means disease can spread quickly.

"Most men have either died or fled, leaving the woman alone in responsibility. They are looking after children, taking care of elders, the sick and bringing supplies. They are carrying a heavy burden," Mr Abdalla said.

Mohamed Ahmed Ismail Mohammed, the general manager of the Al Maktoum Foundation in Hargeisa, said strict measures had been taken to ensure the food was safe for consumption.

"We made this very clear to the agricultural company supplying the food items because we are helping around 3,000 families here and in 11 neighbouring areas. That is around 18,000 individuals," said Mr Ismail Mohammed of the help being coordinated from his office. "People in Somalia are already suffering the consequences of war and fighting. There are already too many displaced, too many injured and too many orphans. They have truly suffered."

The crisis in the Horn of Africa has led to the death of tens of thousands, and millions more have been displaced and are suffering from malnutrition in what the UN describes as a "humanitarian catastrophe". – The National


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