Airlines

With celebrity backing, Turkish Airlines to fly food provisions to Somali famine victims

 (Reuters)

A campaign started by a former Vine star to use Turkish Airlines to help famine victims in Somalia, went viral over the weekend, reaching its $1 million target in under 24 hours. 

The campaign, created by Jerome Jarre who is well known on social media platforms like Snapchat, was started on March 15 but was soon picked up and promoted by celebrities ranging from YouTuber Juanpa Zarita to NFL player and political activist Colin Kaepernick and even actor Ben Stiller.

"This movement started with a crazy idea, what if we could convince Turkish Airlines to let us use one of their flights to Somalia? And fill it with food!" Jarre explained on the original GoFundMe page. 

Why Turkish Airlines? Currently, the Istanbul-based carrier is the only international airline that flies to the Somali capital of Mogadishu, spurring Jarre to create the hashtag #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia.

Eventually, the airline took notice and agreed to get involved.

“We got the call for this meaningful flight,” the airline said in a tweet on March 16.

In just a single day, the campaign’s GoFundMe page reached the $1 million goal to help pay for provisions which will include rice, flour, sugar, nutritional biscuits cooking oil, among other basic provisions, according to Jarre. 

Accoding to Metro UK, the average donation has been around $28 – with the largest single amounts coming from Kaepernick, basketball player Wilson Chandler, and DJ Calvin Harris who all donated $25,000 each. 

“Not only they are making available a full cargo flight that can fly 60 tons of food, but they agreed to let us ship food containers on their commercial aircraft to Somalia, until the end of the famine,” the backers of the campaign wrote after Turkish Airlines agreed to fly the food. 

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“One airplane at a time - one shipment at a time! We are learning how to help now, starting with one point of impact. Right now, we've proved how much our power doesn't mean much individually, but has the potential to move mountains (AIRPLANES!!!) when we UNITE,” they wrote.

According to the United Nations, around 6.2 million people are currently in need of humanitarian help in Somalia. That’s almost half of the country’s total population.

“For the first flight,” the campaign stated, “we will buy the food in Istanbul, as a thank you to our Turkish friends that supports the movement!”

“Later on, we are hoping to learn how to buy food directly from local businesses in Somalia. We want to support the Somalian economy.”

As of this posting, Love Army for Somalia has raised over $1.7 million through  63,580 backers.