Aster Volunteers joined hands with Al Hayat Foundation humanitarian workers in Somalia, to support the ongoing relief efforts and aid in the safe distribution of over 150,000 meal packets to the famine affected and displaced Somalis at Buraco in Somaliland, in presence of their regional Vice Governor Mohammed Hayd.
The initiative is part of the 'Aster Volunteer' global programme for Africa for the disaster support as part of "Aster@30" initiatives commemorating Aster DM Healthcare's 30th anniversary year. Aster partnered with Government of Dubai's Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) earlier this year as part of Aster's ongoing Give Back Initiative (GBI), to provide humanitarian aid and support the relief efforts in famine affected areas of Somalia, channelled through its 'Aster Volunteers' programme.
The foods packed through Salma Humanitarian Relief Programme, is an initiative pioneered by the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre and managed by AMAF, ensured safe delivery and efficient distribution of the food packets. The distribution was supported by six Aster volunteers, who travelled to Somalia. The ground handling was organised by Al Hayat Islamic Foundation - an NGO in Somalia that Aster has partnered through AMAF and its associated Dubai Charity Association (DCA).
Commenting on the initiative Dr Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, said around three million people, an estimated one-quarter of Somalia's population, are experiencing "acute food shortages at crisis or emergency levels as of June 2017". A total of 363,000 children are suffering from malnutrition.
"Aster aspires to be a responsible member of the international community that hopes to do what we can to alleviate the suffering of those in less fortunate conditions than we are. The people of Somalia have long struggled with both violence and scarcity, and it is our honour and duty to assist them as we can."
He stated that the Aster@30 initiative and the 'Aster Volunteer' programme are testimony to the efforts to empower individuals who want to make a positive difference in the society and extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. "I ask anyone who is willing and able to join us going forward so we can assist in the healing of others. We feel very happy and proud the food dispatched from Dubai soon after Ramadan days were distributed among the famine-affected people at Buraco, just prior to Eid Al Adha celebrations."
The assigned volunteers left Dubai on August 25 early morning, arrived in Hargeisa, the capital of the Somaliland. About Dh1.5 million worth food packets were dispatched in two shipping containers of 20 foot each and arrived in Buraco where it was safely taken to various stocking and distributions sites. The value of the containers was raised internally through the contribution of Aster's employees, with equal contribution from the Aster DM Foundation - the charitable arm of Aster DM Healthcare.
The distribution arrangements started early in the morning on Saturday the August 26 and continued throughout the day with the channelised ration benefitting to around 3,500 families packed in a large box with 42 food packets. The distribution programme well coordinated, monitored and managed by the local authorities, the NGO officials and the humanitarian community workers.
The volunteers later met the Abdirahman Abdilaahi Ismail, Vice-President of the Republic of Somaliland, and Suleiman Essa Ahmed, Health Minister for the Republic of Somaliland.
"We are very pleased to receive such great support and commitment from our partners and friends in Dubai," said Abdul Hakeem Saed Bare, chairman of Al Hayat Islamic Foundation.
"Somalia is a country that struggles with a host of challenges. We are doing everything we can to do our part to ensure that our fellow citizens are provided with basic human needs so that they can one day fulfil their potential and follow their dreams. This is a difficult task under any circumstances, and we are grateful to have such dedicated support ."
Commenting on the initiative, Tayeb Al Rais, Secretary-General of AMAF, said: "The provision of food is vital to reducing the number of deaths. We aim to achieve a measure of food security and to ensure the sustained health of these victims of natural disasters and strife. We thank Aster DM Healthcare for its valuable generosity and efforts to support humanitarian aid and help people overcome extreme natural disasters. This public-private sector partnership reflects a shared commitment to giving for the benefit of humanity, which in turn serves the dream and vision of the rulers of our land."
The Salma Humanitarian Relief Programme, endeavours to provide humanitarian initiatives aimed at combating poverty in parts of the world, where access to basic needs is scarce. The aid to Somalia's victims of famine is part of an ongoing effort on the part of Aster to alleviate the suffering of those in unfortunate conditions across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
In addition to its activity in Somalia, Aster DM Healthcare is also providing medical support to the Syrian Refugees settled in Refugee Camps in Al Zaatari, Al Azraq and Erbid in Jordan, through the deployment of its volunteers as per the guidelines of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The programme started in April and till date, it has benefitted to 2,019 people.