CAIRO: While struggling with their own economic hardships, Egyptians were quick to mobilize efforts to help drought-stricken Somalia through collecting donations and organizing aid convoys.
The Arab Doctors Union’s emergency and relief committee in Egypt has set up hotlines and bank accounts through which donations can be transferred.
The majority of individual fundraising efforts are also eventually directed to Somalia through the Arab Doctors Union.
However, after facing many problems with the customs, the union decided to accept only monetary donations through bank transfers, according to a source inside the committee.
The union then uses the money to buy food, water, shelter, medication and other supplies from areas close to the border of Somalia. This, the source pointed out, also saves money spent on transportation.
The union sent two aid convoys to Somalia this week; one carrying doctors and the other carrying a group of volunteers.
Numerous fundraising campaigns were also initiated to collect donations for Somalia, the majority of which through the social networking websites Facebook and Twitter.
Rotaract New Cairo set up a Facebook group called “I will feed a Somali child for a month.” “A Somali child dies every 100 seconds, Le 65 saves him/her from death,” a statement on the group explained. The money collected is directed to the Arab Doctors Union, according to Abdel Rahman El-Badawy, one of the campaign’s organizers.
Student clubs at the American University in Cairo are also keeping busy during their summer vacation, contributing to efforts to collect money for Somalia.
“The Student Union, in collaboration with most of the organizations on campus, launched a campaign that is not only collecting money but also raising awareness of the problem and where to donate and who to call for information,” explained Khadiga Rehab, president of the Mass Communications Association.
Major Islamic institutions are calling on Muslims all over the world to help their brothers and sisters in Somalia, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.
Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta released a statement calling on Muslims to put their alms, or zakat, and other donations in relief efforts going to Somalia to aid the drought-stricken country during this humanitarian disaster, referring to it as “important priority and duty on Muslims all over the world.”
Donations can be given in any form whether money, food, drinks, medicine or shelter, the statement said.
Furthermore, Dar Al Ifta encouraged that the zakat Al-fitr, which is the alms given to the poor at the end of the fasting in Ramadan, to be directed to Somalia.
The International Islamic Fiqh Academy, a body under the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), also called on people all over the world to help those in Somalia during this critical time is a duty.” The OIC said Wednesday that foreign ministers of member states will meet in Turkey next week to discuss aid to Somalia.
The member states have also gathered last month to coordinate an emergency response to the devastating drought in Somalia. The OIC would start by distributing aid to some 40,000 people in the Afgooye corridor near Mogadishu under an agreement with the World Food Program, Ihsanoglu said at the time.
The severe drought has forced tens of thousands of Somalis to flee to camps in Ethiopia and Kenya to survive. But conditions are still harsh, with food supplies and shelter often inadequate and relief groups overwhelmed by the huge influx of desperate people, according to AFP.
About 78,000 Somalis have fled this year alone to Ethiopia to escape the drought ravaging the Horn of Africa, hitting Somalia the hardest with famine declared in several southern regions, AFP reported.