Cry for Somalia

Published: September 29, 2011

There’s no time – they need help now, not tomorrow, say Aussie charity workers in Dubai to raise awareness and aid for Somalia.
The screams of women being whipped as they wait for food handouts in Somalia will haunt Fatima Harrison for life.
The Australian charity worker is visiting Dubai to raise awareness and aid for the African country where starvation and disease have killed 29,000 children and 10,000 adults in the past three months.
Thousands more will perish if the world doesn’t send urgent relief, said Harrison, who works for charity group SODA (Somali Organisation for Development Aid). She and colleague Umm Ayaan Douglas, also visiting Dubai, have long been involved in Somalia relief efforts. Both are Australian converts to Islam.
“This isn’t a new crisis, the tragedy has been unfolding for years,” said Douglas, 40. “The world has been slow to react; lessons from past humanitarian disasters have gone unlearnt.”
Desperate crowds swelling outside food aid depots in Somalia – and bordering Kenya – often endure heavy-handed tactics meant to keep them at bay before gates open, the 39-year-old added.
Douglas said that Somalia has been “without a real government” for over two decades, with crime gangs terrorising Somalis and foreign aid workers. “The situation is terribly uncontrollable, there are militias in the middle of a famine,” she said.
Douglas added that some 6,000 children meanwhile are suffering from infectious diseases like cholera. “The children are too weak to survive this – one mosquito bite and they’re gone. When the rains come, so will the mosquitos. It’ll be malaria season soon.”
Harrison said the UAE has done “a wonderful job in helping Somalia and it can do even more”. For example, she said, shipping containers of food aid in ports can’t reach refugee camps because there are not enough funds to cover huge trucking costs.
“We owe it to humanity, we must feed the hungry. There’s no time – they need help now, not tomorrow.”
Douglas, who speaks Somali, said SODA is in talks with UAE care groups and authorities to form partnerships in humanitarian assistance for Somalia. She had turned to Islam when she was 18, after reading about the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) while Harrison became a Muslim when she was 28, after she read the Quran.
Source: GulfNews.Com

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