After President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent visits to three African countries, a different approach and a vision for Africa became more visible.
The continent, which was hit by centuries of colonialist policies of Western powers, is now in urgent need of humanity to save the last grains of hope for the next generations.
A recent report from UNICEF highlights a serious threat to the next generations and the future of children, especially in Africa. According to the report, 2017 was "a year of nightmares" for children because of endless conflicts and lack of nutrition, clean water and health services in various countries, posing a vital risk for 1.8 million children.
"Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds," Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF's director of emergency programs, said, adding: "As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal."
Here the key words are the "new normal" as the world started to digest an emergent situation in suffering parts of the world, considering them to be normal. The report focuses on long-running conflicts in Africa as among the worst places where children are increasingly chosen as deliberate targets.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo's Kasai region, almost 1 million children were displaced in the past year alone and more than 400 schools were intentionally attacked. In Nigeria and Cameroon, the Boko Haram terrorist group used around 135 children as suicide bombers – over five times as many as the year prior. In Sudan, tens of thousands of children suffered from conflicts. These are just one report's points, as we can list thousands of such papers. Alarm bells ring for Africa more than ever.
Meanwhile, Turkey's new approach for Africa, which has been implemented since 2004, brought an alternative for the future of the continent. Visiting more than 25 countries during his terms as prime minister and president, Erdoğan emphasizes the need to contribute to these states instead of exploiting them. Encouraging joint projects and constructing facilities for education and health services in these countries, Turkey is doing its best for real cooperation with these countries. Ankara is taking steps to boost trade ties and joint projects following business councils held in parallel with the president's visits.
A photo from the 1950s shows a human zoo in Belgium in which a 6-year-old African child was shown in an area surrounded by barriers and where dozens of Europeans watched her as if she were a wild animal. And the visitors were warned not to feed them as they had been fed recently. The photo needs no description to explain the position of the West vis-à-vis Africans. Of course, it is not the only example of such shameful scenes. And we are just talking about recent history, which shows the gravity of the situation.
Turkey has a lot to share with the Western world to change the brutal policies of the past and to export a new vision for the sake of humanity in that part of the world.