OIC pledges $350 million to Somalia at Turkey summit
By Ibon Villelabeitia
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - ISTANBUL Aug 17 (Reuters) - Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries have pledged $350 million in aid to fight famine in Somalia at an emergency summit in Istanbul, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said on Wednesday.
With some 3.7 million Somalis at risk of starvation in the Horn of Africa country, Ihsanoglu said he hoped the aid would soon reach $500 million and urged donors to improve drought-stricken Somalia's long-term food security by helping it rebuild infrastructure and agriculture.
"All in all we have secured $350 million in pledges. We hope to raise the commitments to $500 million in a very short time," he told a news conference after the summit, held in Turkey's commercial capital during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan appealed for aid for Somalia, criticising millionaires who drive luxury cars and the "Western world's" arrogance for ignoring the plight of the poor.
In a speech sprinkled with references to Islamic piety and criticism of Western capitalism, Erdogan said the Somali famine was "a litmus test" not only for Muslims but for all humanity.
"If you ride a luxury car you should be generous enough to people who are struggling with hunger," he told foreign ministers from the 57-nation OIC at an emergency summit in Istanbul to galvanise support for Somalia and neighbouring regions also hit by drought.
"I hope the efforts (of the OIC) will mobilise the sleeping consciences. We hope the Western world, which likes to boast about its per capita income, shows its support for Somalia."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week her country would give an extra $17 million to combat famine in the Horn of Africa, including $12 million to help Somalis -- bringing total U.S. humanitarian aid to the region to more than $580 million this year. Continued...