Somalia: Farmajo hails Turkey after dispatching medical supplies for COVID-19 battle


MOGADISHU, Somalia - Ankara seems to be winning the confidence in Mogadishu in recent months, with Villa Somalia terming the latest dispatching of medical supplies as "very necessary donation" from a "true" brother.

On Friday, Turkey flagged off a cargo plane carrying medical supplies and other critical equipment meant for the fight against Coronavirus pandemic, which has since invaded Mogadishu, the Somalia capital.

As of Thursday, the deadly virus had infected 601 people, of which 31 have since recovered and 28 perished, the health department said. This excludes two recent deaths at Puntland and Somaliland states, which were announced on Friday.

Through Villa Somalia on Saturday, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo acknowledged the support from Ankara, arguing that the consignment is "key" towards the ongoing battle against the deadly virus.

"The government and the people of Somalia led by President Farmaajo deeply appreciate the brotherly intervention of the Republic of Turkey," read a tweet by Abdinur Mohamed, the Villa Somalia spokesman. "The delivered kits are indeed key to Somalia's efforts to contain COVID19."

Friday's donation comes barely a month after Turkey donated another set of medical supplies to Somalia, whose population is vulnerable, given almost a dysfunctional healthcare system. Ankara is one of the top financiers of FGS, whose term expires in December.

Due to unusual close partnerships with Somalia, Turkey has been a major target for Al-Shabaab militants, who have derailed some of the development initiates being undertaken by Ankara expatriates in Somalia. For instance, two of its citizens were killed during the December bomb attack near Afgoye junction, police said.

Further, the new blossoming relationship between Somalia and Turkey has forced Ankara to go ballistic on the United Arab Emirates, which is also fighting for stakes both in Somalia and the Arab world. On Thursday, Turkey accused UAE of "financing terrorists especially Al-Shabaab" in a statement that could spark diplomatic fallout.

Farmajo, who is facing a myriad of challenges among them COVID-19 and Al-Shabaab menace, seized Labour Day opportunity to hail medics for "being at the frontline" in the fight against Coronavirus.

"To all our Somali workers, more so our healthcare team on the frontline against COVID19 and every one of us who continues to sweat for Somalia, I salute you," he said, adding that "we remain worker-friendly to foster ILO principles".

Already, three doctors were diagnosed with the virus at a Turkish-run hospital in Mogadishu last month, which has since closed doors for members of the public. Also, Dr. Fawziya Abikar, the health minister, announced the death of a nurse attached to Martini Hospital, who contracted the disease.

While dispatching the consignment which consists of medical supplies, masks, overalls, and test kits, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, "We stand together with Somalia and Africa against all calamities".

"The visit drew the world’s attention to the forsaken country of Somalia and Erdoğan became the hope of our Somali brothers and sisters," added Ibrahim Kalin, a senior official, in reference to Tayyip's 2011 trip to Somalia.

But the figures of those who have succumbed to the disease remain fairly contested, even though the government maintains that it's 31. Mogadishu Mayor Omar Filish, has been having contradictory positions over the same.

For Instance, he told reporters last month that "stay at home, we've buried many due to the virus". And on Friday, he maintained that over 500 people have died within the last two weeks in the city, although he was not explicit on the actual course of death.

To avert the escalating number of infections, FGS has implemented a host of stringent measures including the imposition of dusk-to-dawn curfew in Mogadishu. Both domestic and international flights were also suspended indefinitely.


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