UAE telethon to help Somalian children facing starvation raises Dh165 million

The total was raised from across the UAE in just six hours.

ABU DHABI // A charity telethon for tens of thousands of Somalian children facing starvation raised Dh165 million within hours on Friday.

There was an overwhelming response from the public to the campaign, which was broadcast on Abu Dhabi TV, Dubai TV and Sharjah TV from 2pm to 8pm.

People and public and private institutions flocked to donation centres to support the Emirates Red Crescent’s For You, Somalia campaign, launched this month under the directives of the President, Sheikh Khalifa.

The donations will go to provide suffering Somalis with food, water, medicine and other necessities to help them survive their third famine in 25 years.

Dr Hamdan Al Mazroui, chairman of the Emirati Red Crescent Authority, donated Dh1m.

He said the attack on a team from Emirates Red Crescent last Wednesday in Mogadishu would not hinder aid operations. Luckily, there were no casualties.

“Our humanitarian teams and volunteers proved to the world that the UAE humanitarian work will continue,” he said.

Sharjah Charity International donated Dh1.5m to the campaign.

“We have also allocated Dh2.5m of relief aid, which was despatched to Somalia by a committee and in coordination with Somalia’s foreign affairs ministry and the UAE Embassy in Mogadishu,” said Abdullah Al Dhukhan, secretary general of the charity.

Dar Al Ber Society donated Dh500,000 to the campaign.

“The campaign’s aim is to stand beside the Somali people, limit their suffering and lift the hunger pangs that they suffer from the drought,” said Abdullah Al Falasi, executive director of the society.

Mr Al Falasi said the campaign showed the world how passionate the UAE and its people were when it came to humanitarian work.

Muhammad Ibrahim, first secretary of the Somalian embassy, thanked the country, its leadership and its people for standing by the Somali people.

“I was in Somalia several months ago and I witnessed sad stories there,” Mr Ibrahim said. “There has been a drought there for the past five years, which led to an exodus from the affected areas to Mogadishu.

“The Somalian government extends its gratitude to the UAE for the humanitarian work they are carrying out in Somalia, including well digging in the central region of Somalia.”

Mr Ibrahim said his country was going through worse conditions than those of 2010 to 2012, when an estimated 260,000 people – half of them children – died as a result of a severe drought and conflict.

“There are hundreds of children dying due to the lack of clean water and spread of diseases,” he said. “Women and children are the most affected.

“Ten per cent are dying every three weeks due to diarrhoea, especially in the southern and central regions.”

The UN has warned that about 360,000 Somalian children are estimated to be suffering from acute malnutrition.

On Saturday, it flew in high-energy biscuits and medicines from Dubai to Mogadishu to support 31,000 people for three days, state news agency Wam reported. The World Food Programme will provide other types of life-saving food assistance in the coming days.