Donations for fight against COVID-19 from Turkey and Qatar sighted in shops in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Donations with labels bearing Qatar and Turkey flags have been sighted in shops within Mogadishu, an incident which could back claims of smuggling within the Ministry of Health, that is entrusted to steer the fight against COVID-19.
Both Ankara and Doha have been instrumental in helping Somalia battle the Coronavirus pandemic, through donation of water buckets, hand sanitisers, medical supplies and facemasks, which are essential in the exercise.
The donations have helped save millions of vulnarable Somalis besides supplementing the weak health systems, which have struggled to contain the surging cases of COVID-19. So far, Somalia has recorded 2,146 positive cases.
But the effort seems to be facing internal sabotage following sighting of several donations in leading shops and pharmacies within the seaside city, which have been displayed for commercial purposes.
Photos making rounds on social media shows water buckets, hand sanitisers, medical supplies in various shops, all of them with labels from the two nations, an indication that they are not meant for sale. It's not clear how the donations made it to private businesses.
Until now, the federal government, which gives daily updates on the situation of Coronavirus, is yet to issue a statement on the matter. Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheire is responsible for coordination of government businesses.
The sighting of the donations come just a week after former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed raised alarm over alleged smuggling of the supplies from government to black market, a claim which did not attract response from the Federal Goverment of Somalia.
Speaking during an Eld al Fitr gathering in Mogadishu, Ahmed, who served as president during the Transitional Goverment from 2009 to 2012, said some of the donations had been sighted within the streets, but did not give tangible evidence to substantiate the allegations.
"It seems that several medical aid donated by governments friendly to Somalia are not being used properly. Some of them have been seen in the market, that is not good," said the firebrand politician, who has been at loggerheads with federal leader Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in recent months.
According to Ahmed, who was recently picked as the chairman of the Forum for National Parties [FNP], a conglomerate of six opposition parties, his office had received reports that the donations were being smuggled. However, he did not link any institution to the alleged scandal.
The federal government has been handling dispatchment of the donations across all member states including secessionist Somaliland. Banadir region leads in the number of infections followed by Puntland and then Somaliland, head department said.
To date, of the infections, the Horn of Africa nation has recorded 400 recoveries and 79 deaths, the highest within the region. The ministry of health has been recommending for use of facemasks and washing of hands as a measure to combat the disease.
At least 70 percent of Somalis leave below one dollar, a move which places the country as one of the poorest in the world. Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has traditionally fought inter-clan conflicts and Al-Shabaab menace, with the calamities contributing significantly to deterioration of infrastructure.
Jama Mohamed, the Somalia ambassador to Turkey, recently hailed Ankara for its continued support, arguing that it was "quick and pragmatic humanitarian" intervention driven by the "moral imperative" of assisting its brotherly nation.
"It is a principle that is enshrined in humanity and empathy and emphasized by cultural proximity, historical relations and a friendship of two nations that dates back to the 15th century," he said in a statement.
"The quick deployment of much-needed medical equipment at this critical time in Somalia has demonstrated and is a clear testimony to the unique Turkish humanitarian diplomacy model toward Somalia."
The country is set to resume domestic flights in the coming week, after months of suspension over the Coronavirus pandemic. Sources within the government also indicated that international flights would resume soon, weeks after suspension over Coronavirus pandemic.