20 November 2017

Somalia: Former Turkish Envoy Recalls Experience in Mogadishu

The security situation in Somalia did not prevent Kani Torun from serving as Turkey's ambassador to Somalia from 2011 to 2014.

Upon his arrival in Mogadishu, Torun's main task was to provide humanitarian aid to thousands of Somalis facing a devastating famine at the time.

"Then after, we started providing development projects including the construction of roads, schools, hospitals, the airport and seaport among others," Torun, who is currently a Justice and Development (AK) Party member of parliament, told Anadolu Agency in an interview in Johannesburg.

Torun says that through these initiatives Somalis realized that only the Turkish government was providing them with true tangible development projects.

"The experience in Somalia was truly rewarding because we did a lot of work for our Somali brothers and sisters," he said.

"When I was in Somalia, I was the only ambassador living downtown and there were many challenges," he added.

Turkey has been active in Somalia since 2011 when then Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the country with his family during a devastating famine. Turkey has since provided infrastructural, humanitarian and medical assistance to the Horn of Africa country.

Last month, Turkey launched its largest overseas military training academy in Somalia, which will help rebuild the country's army.

In October, Turkey also airlifted dozens of Somalis who were critically injured in a devastating truck bomb blast for medical treatment in Turkey.

The truck bombing had claimed more than 350 lives, one of the deadliest attacks in Somali history.

"I would like to thank the Turkish government for their support and solidarity to the Somali people," Somali lawmaker Abdulazizi Abdullahi Mohammed representing his country in the Pan-African parliament in Johannesburg said during a parliamentary session.

Another Somali lawmaker, Lufti Sheriff Mohamed, said in a statement, he was grateful to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish people for their efforts in supporting the government and people of Somalia.

The former Turkish envoy recalled that although the security situation in Mogadishu was difficult, he would still go out with a team of Somalis to work.

He said his time in Mogadishu was also rewarding because Turkey was helping rebuild a country that had faced a civil war for over two decades.

"We have done work on mediation, development, provision of aid and state building," he said.

The MP describes his experience in Somalia as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, because of the bonds he created there. He still visits the country.

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