Turkish Airlines reaches out Somalia
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ (2nd front) arrives in Mogadishu with cheers. AA photoHundreds of Somalis cheered a delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ yesterday, as Turkey opened a modern hospital in Mogadishu and Turkish Airlines (THY) launched regular flights to the impoverished, war-ravaged African country.
Bozdağ travelled to Mogadishu on the inaugural flight of THY, the first international company to launch commercial flights to Somalia in two decades, as Turkey moved to further step up assistance to the country amid growing international praise of its efforts. There were high security measures in Mogadishu. Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed welcomed Bozdağ at the airport. “On behalf of my people, it is an honor for me that the THY plane flew here. We thank the Turkish people,” said the Somali president.
The minister inaugurated the Şifa Hospital, which he described as the “most modern hospital in Somalia,” with a capacity of 60 beds and equipment to perform surgeries that Somali health institutions had been unable to conduct. The hospital was sponsored by Turkey’s Medical Park hospitals and will be operated by the nongovernmental organization Global Doctors. The doctors will be mostly Turks, as well as 13 Somalis.
Bozdağ said Turkey was also building another hospital, with a capacity of 200 beds, and planned to inaugurate it later in the year. The Turkish charity groups Kimse Yok Mu and Yardımeli have laid the foundations of two other hospitals with 100 beds each. “This is the Turkish people’s healing hand extended to the Somali people,” he said.
THY chief Temel Kotil, who also flew to Mogadishu, said THY would fly twice a week from Istanbul to Mogadishu via Khartoum. He said the flights would become daily in several months.
Many Somali expatriates, whom THY officials expect to be the main customers of the new route, travelled on the first flight from Istanbul to Mogadishu late March 5. The flights would make an important contribution to boosting investment and trade in Somalia, THY officials said.
Bozdağ also visited a tent city run by the Turkish Red Crescent, which accommodates 12,000 people. The residents of the camp greeted him with songs and dances.