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Indonesia Joins Forces to Help Somalian Famine Victims
Jimmy Hitipeuw | Minggu, 11 September 2011 | 03:36 WIB

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - Moved by the conditions of famine victims in Somalia, the Indonesian government and a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Dompet Dhuafa, Rumah Zakat, Baznas, PKPU, and Fast Response Action (ACT), have expressed a commitment to giving aid to the African country.

"Indonesia is committed to giving aid to Somalia. The Social Affairs Ministry has agreed to provide aid for Somalia, along with a number of NGOs," Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri said here.

The minister was concerned about conditions in Somalia where 13 toddlers die every day due to starvation. "During the past three months, at least 30,000 people died due to starvation in the East African country," the minister said.

According to Salim, several domestic NGOs had reportedly managed to raise funds to the tune of 20 billion rupiah for Somalia. Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) Jusuf Kalla recently announced a bank account number for donations to be given to Somalian people.

The new bank account number is: 070-00-0637957-9 under the name of Indonesian Red Cross-Somalia at Bank Mandiri chapter of Jakarta Krakatau Steel. "We are very much concerned and care for the Somalian people currently facing starvation," Kalla, a former Indonesian vice president, said in a press statement recently.

Kalla received Somalian Ambassador to Indonesia Mohamud Olow Barow at the PMI Headquarters on August 23, 2011. Volunteers from the Fast Response Action (ACT), the Humanitarian Post Caring for the Ummah (PKPU), Dompat Dhuafa have in fact been in Somalia to deliver assistance.

As an NGO registered with the United Nations, PKPU sent another humanitarian assistance team to Somalia on Wednesday. "It will be the second humanitarian assistance team we have sent to Somalia after the first one dispatched during the recent Ramadhan fasting month in cooperation with a Turkish international aid organization," Tomy Hendrajati, PKPU’s utilization director, said on Tuesday.

According to Tomy, PKPU was constantly consulting and coordinating with Indonesia’s foreign ministry and the Somalian embassy in Jakarta because its volunteers would be working in very difficult situations and conditions in the east African state.

The PKPU’s second humanitarian assistance team to Somalia would be led by Tomy himself and consist of rescue coordinator Subur Rojinawi , media and communication volunteers Sukismo and Elfiyon Julinit.

The NGO had in the past conducted humanitarian missions in the Pakistan floods, the Mt Merapi eruptions, the Wasior flood, the earthquakes and tsunami in Aceh and West Sumatra and other disaster stricken locations. Those experiences in humanitarian work in other post-disaster situations would be used as a reference in its mission in Somalia in accordance with its motto "Break through without delay.".

In its mission in Somalia, the PKPU team would prioritize life-saving actions benefiting malnourished children and women. Tomy said almost half of Somalia’s 3.7 million population was now blighted by a food and health crisis and in dire need of help from other countries, including Indonesia.

But the disaster in Somalia was of a specific nature because it could not be overcome within a short time but would need long-term attention and handling, he noted.

A shortage of food and medical aid and lack of safety guarantees for aid organization workers in Somalia had caused the situation there to continue to worsen. Moreover, a civil war raging in the country was also hindering the supply of humanitarian aid for the famine victims.

Another team of Indonesian humanitarian workers from ACT was in Kenya to help Somalian famine refugees staying in a camp at Dadaab near the border with Somalia. The Indonesian Action Team for Somalia, a humanitarian team sent by the Indonesian Committee for Somalian Solidarity (KISS), is led by Imam Akbari, assisted by members Andhika Purbo Swasono, Dr Adji Suranto Sp.A and Dr. Nahdlatul Ulami.

KISS was initiated by the Quick Response Action (ACT) and declared on August 19, 2011, in Masjid Agung Al Azhar, Jakarta as Indonesia’s response to the famine in Somalia. Imam Akbari, the team leader, in a message to Antara recently said the team consisting of two doctors and two logistics volunteers set up a base camp in Garissa, the capital of the North Eastern Province of Kenya.

The Dadaab refugee camp is controlled by Kenya’s Immigration Ministry and UNHCR and located in North Eastern Province, an area in northeastern Kenya, that is the driest and poorest in Kenya. The majority of the people living in Dadaab are Muslims, and according to the Kenyan Red Cross, there are about four million poor Kenyan people in the area.

In Garissa, the team’s base camp was facilitated by Sulaiman, a local leader who had studied at UIN Jakarta, Imam said. "This is an evidence that Somalia, Kenya and Africa are our close relatives," said Imam.

Based on data obtained by the ACT team, the number of Somali refugees in Dadaab camp reaches 400,000, with quite high migration rate at 1200-1500 people per day. "To reach Dadaab, Somali refugees have to walk a distance of 100 km," Imam said.

Imam Akbari said his team was the first humanitarian group dispatched by KISS. "We will work from the current emergency phase up to the recovery phase," he said.

ACT President Director Ahyudin said recently the first ACT team had returned to Indonesia on September 7 after been working for 17 days in Somalia. His organization provided funds amounting to Rp1 billion for emergency and mitigation programs in Somalia.

"It will need at least one year to overcome this famine problem in Somalia," he said, adding that ACT will continue delivering humanitarian assistance to the poor nation. Minister Salim on Thursday said the government would soon send assistance in the form of food and cash to Somalia with the coordination of other humanitarian organizations such as Baznas, PKPU, ACT, Dompet Dhuafa, and Rumah Zakat.

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