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Turkey to Reopen Embassy in Famine-Hit Somalia

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan with his wife Emine Erdogan speaks with internally displaced children from southern Somalia during visit to a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Aug, 19, 2011

Turkey's prime minister says his country will reopen its embassy in Somalia and provide critical help to the famine-hit country.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited refugee camps and a hospital in the capital, Mogadishu, during a one-day trip on Friday.

During a news conference, Erdogan also promised Turkey would construct a road from the Mogadishu airport to the city to make it easier to deliver aid. He also vowed his country would build schools and a hospital.

The prime minister called on other countries to step up assistance to Somalia and other Horn of Africa nations experiencing the worst drought in six decades.

Earlier this week 57 nations with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) pledged $350 million for the drought-stricken region.

Erdogan did not indicate if the improvements he promised in Somalia would be paid for with money already included in the OIC pledge or with additional funding.

The United States has contributed more than $565 million in assistance to Somalia and other Horn of Africa countries to combat drought and famine.

The United Nations has said that overall in the Horn of Africa, more than 12 million people need food aid.

In Somalia, where the situation is the most dire, the U.N. says as many as 3.2 million people are estimated to be on the brink of starvation.

VOA correspondents Peter Heinlein and Gabe Joselow reported this past week from Mogadishu, Somalia, about the humanitarian situation there. Here are some of their photos: