Mogadishu - The Somali government received 40 containers of food aid from the United Arab Emirates Saturday, amid concern over famine in the Horn of African country. The drought has displaced a million people so far.
In a handover ceremony that took place in Mogadishu's seaport Saturday, Somalia received much-needed humanitarian assistance from the United Arab Emirates in the presence of senior Somali government officials.
UAE Ambassador to Somalia Mohamed al-Othmani, who spoke at the handover said the food supplies include more than 1,000 metric tons sent by the UAE Red Crescent, meant to help Somalia fight the drought that has devastated the country.
The drought has already displaced a million Somalis who joined nearly 2 million internally displaced people who fled from Somalia's previous drought.
'I want to thank the minister and the office of the prime minister for attending the handover of humanitarian assistance sent by the government of the United Arab Emirates. We are handing over a thousand tons of aid to the Somali government. You know that earlier this year the UAE donated 35 million Dirham, $9.5 million, to the Somali government,' said al-Othmani.
Hirsi Jama Gani, Somalia's state minister for the office of the prime minister, welcomed the assistance and thanked UAE for helping Somalia's drought relief efforts.
He said the country is witnessing a huge drought and called on Somalis and other international parties to join the humanitarian efforts in Somalia.
'We are here today to receive the humanitarian assistance from the United Arab Emirates represented by the ambassador sent to help our people, who are facing drought,' he said. 'We thank UAE for this and previous assistance meant to help drought-affected people. We know the situation that our people are in who are in a middle of drought and calling other parties and Somalis to join the efforts to reach people in need.'
Abdullahi Ahmed Jama Ilkajir, Somalia's Ports and Marine minister, said the food assistance will be delivered and distributed to all drought-hit areas in the country.
He said the aid will be uploaded unloaded in all parts of the country, including in Bosaso, Berbera and Kismayo, which host the biggest seaports in the country.
Somalia is witnessing its worst drought in more than 40 years, which has devastated 90% of the country.
The drought has affected more than 7 million people, and widespread malnutrition and drought-related illnesses have killed more than 500 children.
In the Gedo region, bordering Kenya and Ethiopia, authorities earlier told VOA by phone that more than 50 people, mainly children and elderly, have died due to the drought, which has caused a huge increase of displacement.
Authorities told VOA that more than 50,000 people displaced by the drought have fled to camps in the town of Dolow in the Gedo region in search of food, water, shelter and assistance.
Somalia last year declared the three-year drought a national emergency.
According to the prime minister's office, the drought has also killed more than 2 million livestock and affected 28% of the country's total livestock population.