Ali Akbar Salehi, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has paid a brief visit to the famine-striken capital of Somalia. He has pledged relief assistance to the displaced persons residing there in Mogadishu., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Iranian foreign minister visits famine-hit areas in Somalia
Wednesday 24 August 2011
MOGADISHU - Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi travelled to Somalia on Tuesday to visit the famine-hit areas and oversee the process of delivering aid to the country.
He returned home on the same day.
The Iranian foreign minister visited the camps in Mogadishu and the one set up by the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) which has accommodated 200 households.
He told reporters that Iran is also ready to set up a camp in Somalia which can accommodate 2000 famine-affected people and that he has discussed the issue with Somali officials.
Iran has so far sent 280 tons of aid to Somalia.
Salehi also briefed reporters on humanitarian aid that Iran has so far sent to Somalia and its future plans to help the people affected by famine.
Salehi announced that Iran will ship an aid cargo weighing 5000 tons to Somalia.
“In addition, at our request, an emergency meeting was held by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul to explore ways how to provide aid to the Somali people, and the Iranian economy and finance minister (Shamseddin Hosseini) attended the meeting,” he added.
It has been 25 days that Iran has started efforts to deliver aid to Somalis, Salehi said, adding thus far, the Islamic Republic has shipped six aid cargos to Somalia.
He said that Iran was among the first countries which rushed to the aid of Somalia.
Iran has so far provided Somalis with aid worth $25 million, Salehi stated.
He added that the Foreign Ministry feels obligated to keep abreast of the needs and problems of the Somali people and will take measures in this regard.
Salehi also said that Iranian and Somali officials will continue their negotiations over how to tackle the issue of famine, announcing that Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed will make a trip to Tehran in the near future.
During his stay in Mogadishu, Salehi held separate meetings with Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Foreign Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, and the country’s minister of interior and national security.
He briefed the Somali officials on the humanitarian aid that the Islamic Republic has so far sent to the famine-wracked African country, saying Iran will continue sending aid cargos to Somalia and is ready to help steer the country through the crisis.
The Somali prime minister thanked Iran for sending humanitarian aid to Somalia and asked the Iranian nation and government to keep on sending aid to his country.
On July 20, the United Nations declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia owing to the worst drought in decades, and appealed for urgent resources to assist millions of people in desperate need of help.
It is the first time since 1991-92 that the UN has declared famine in a part of Somalia.
Famine is declared when acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30 percent, more than two people per 10,000 die per day, and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).