Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
By Alex Whiting
Jan 26 (AlertNet) – Where most expat aid workers fear to tread in Mogadishu, recently arrived Turkish aid workers have been driving in the streets, swimming in the sea and praying in local mosques.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited Somalia in August, the first head of a non-African state to do so for nearly 20 years. The Turks have since opened an embassy, started work on the international airport, offered Somalis university places in Turkey and made plans to build a new hospital.
“Turkey is an animating force in Somalia … The people honestly love them,” said Mustakim Waid, who worked in Mogadishu for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — the second-largest intergovernmental organisation after the United Nations.
From Turkey to Brazil, India to Saudi Arabia, a growing number of non-Western donors are bringing fresh funds, a different mindset and their own experience of managing natural disasters to the global humanitarian aid scene.
A few months ago I wrote a story about a controversial online game posted on Facebook called the “The City That Shouldn’t Exist” that was consequently pulled off the Web days after its launch amid claims it objectified refugees and lacked sensitivity.
I had a flashback the other day when I was looking at photographs from Haiti of 15-year-old Fabianne Geismar, shot dead in the head after stealing wall hangings from a Port-au-Prince store, crushed in the Jan. 12 earthquake.
The image of Fabianne sprawled on the ground, blood trailing over the paintings she’d grabbed, took me back to my own childhood in Nairobi and the sight of a 7- or 8-year-old-boy – probably the same age as me at the time – who was caught stealing sweets from a street vendor and was beaten and burnt with rubber tyres. They called it mob justice.