A social media campaign to raise $2 million for starving Somalis reached its goal yesterday after Turkish Airlines (THY) pledged to fill a plane with humanitarian aid as campaigners demanded.
Social media sensation Jerome Jarre launched the campaign that called for filling a Turkish Airlines plane with humanitarian assistance last week and soon garnered support from Hollywood actor Ben Stiller and a number of other celebrities.
Anadolu Agency reported that THY will fly 60 tons of humanitarian aid to Somalia as part of the campaign that spread on social media with the hashtag #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia. Turkish Airlines, which is the only international carrier flying to Mogadishu, responded via its Twitter account that it was "ready to take off to help Somalia" last Friday. Through crowd funding, some 75,000 donors donated more than $2 million for the aid, while Turkish officials also extended a hand for mobilizing donors. Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın, who made a phone call to Ben Stiller about the campaign, tweeted that Stiller and his friends did "great and gracious work for the people of Somalia," adding, "We are ready to help." Kerem Kınık, president of the Turkish Red Crescent, tweeted that the charity was preparing three ships and three cargo planes filled with humanitarian aid for Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan with Turkish Airlines.
According to the United Nations, the world is facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the establishment of the global organization in 1945, with over 20 million people on the brink of starvation.
While the U.N. estimates that $4.4 billion is necessary by the end of March to prevent catastrophe in east Africa, only $90 million has been raised.
The lives of about 1.4 million children are threatened by malnutrition in the region, UNICEF warned.
Turkey is the second largest humanitarian assistance donor to Somalia, and has provided over $121.9 million since 2011 through the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), the Turkish Red Crescent and the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned yesterday that the international community had four months at most to save millions of people in Somalia from starvation. Dominik Stillhart, a senior official from the Red Cross, said prolonged conflicts and natural disasters, including drought in the Horn of Africa, had worsened the situation on the ground. From Yemen to Somalia, more than 20 million people are facing famine.
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