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Friday, January 27, 2012

Turkey among new donors shaking up humanitarian aid

Turkey has landed itself a spot among emerging donors on the international humanitarian aid scene, most evidently in its outpouring of support to famine-stricken Somalia.

According to humanitarian aid reports made to the United Nations between 2006 and 2010, the country ranks among the top 10 new donors in terms of international humanitarian aid.

Where most foreign volunteers do not dare to tread the streets of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Turkish aid workers have been driving in the streets, swimming in the sea and praying in local mosques.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan visited Somalia last August, the first head of a non-African state to do so for nearly 20 years. Turkey has since opened an embassy, started work on an international airport, offered Somalis scholarships to study in Turkey and made plans to build a new hospital.

According to the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD), Turkish aid collected through campaigns launched by AFAD, the Religious Affairs Directorate and other organizations has surpassed TL 600 million as part of an ongoing drive that began during Ramadan.

According to the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) estimates last October, Turkey topped the list of countries that provided aid to Somalia when looking at the amount of aid compared to the countries' gross national income.

“Turkey is an animating force in Somalia. … The people honestly love them," said Mustakim Waid, who works in Mogadishu for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

From Turkey to Brazil, India to Saudi Arabia, a growing number of non-Western donors are bringing fresh funds, a different mindset and their own experience of managing natural disasters to the global humanitarian aid scene.

Until recently, most emerging donors focused their aid on their own regions.

But as their economies and political clout have grown, so too has their influence on the humanitarian aid system, which has traditionally been dominated by the mostly Western members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

Over a decade, the volume of humanitarian aid reported by emerging powers increased by almost 20-fold -- from $34.7 million in 2000 to $622.5 million in 2010.

Increasingly, emerging powers are being courted by UN agencies and some large aid organizations for funding.

John Holmes, director of the Ditchley Foundation and former UN emergency relief coordinator, said there was a big imbalance between what rich Western countries and the rest of the world were prepared to give.


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