Somali MP lauds Turkish assistance

JOHANNESBURG – A Somali lawmaker and former interior minister has praised the Turkish government`s recent contributions to helping Somalia`s people and government.

"The visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the famine opened the doors for the international community to come to Somalia," MP Abdisamad Mahamoud Hassan, a former Somali interior minister, told Anadolu Agency in an interview.

In 2011, Erdogan and his family flew to capital Mogadishu amid a famine that had struck the Horn of Africa country.

Hassan, currently in South Africa for the fourth session of the Pan-African Parliament, which opened Monday, said that ever since Erdogan`s visit, a number of Turkish organizations had set up base to help desperate Somalis.

"We`re also grateful that Turkish Airlines started flying to Somalia," he said. "It first started [operating flights] once a week; now, they`re flying three times a week," he added, noting that this has eased travel for many Somalis.

Turkish Airlines became the first major commercial carrier to run flights into war-torn Mogadishu. Before that, no major commercial airline had landed in the capital for at least 20 years.

Turkey also began offering scholarships to Somali students wanting to study in Turkey.

Somalia has remained in the grip of on-again, off-again violence since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.

The country had appeared to inch closer to stability with the recent installation of a new government and the intervention of African Union troops tasked with combating the ongoing Al-Shabaab insurgency.

-Come back -

The former minister appealed to his countrymen living in the diaspora to return home to help rebuild Somalia.

"I know some have come back… but we need more of our people living abroad to come and rebuild their country," he said.

Asked about Somalia`s current security situation, Hassan asserted that a full three quarters of the country had been "liberated by African Union troops from the Al-Shabab militants."

The lawmaker said he would raise the issue of increasing peacekeeping troops to Somalia during a Thursday meeting of the pan-African parliament.

"We want more African countries to send troops so that the country can attain peace," he added.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) currently has about 22,000 troops and police officers stationed in the country.

Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Ethiopia contribute the bulk of troops currently serving in the mission.

Established in 2004, the Pan-African Parliament is the African Union`s legislative organ, to which each member state contributes five MPs.

The continental assembly holds two annual plenary sessions – in May and October – while its permanent committees meet in March and August of each year.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency