Humanitarian movement, the Gift of the Givers, was the only international aid in Somalia this week despite the famine that left thousands without food and water.
“There were no other relief groups there. I don't know why,” said Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman in a telephone interview.
“The people really need help. They have nothing, no food, no water, nothing.”
A team of 20 medical personnel and 12 reporters spent eight days in the east African country taking with them supplies and food.
“It was heartbreaking. Children are dying slowly. Parents are watching their children die in front of their eyes and can't do a thing about it,” he said.
“One doctor was feeding a child, and he -the child- did not even want to let go of the cup because he was so hungry.”
The team arrived back in South Africa on Tuesday. They were reloading supplies and expected to return to Somalia soon.
Deputy minister of international relations Marius Fransman said the group had done a sterling job.
“Once again... you have made South Africans proud as you carried the pride of our nation, the South African flag, sky high in the world of international humanitarian work,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery.
“What you are doing is doubtlessly an embodiment of one of our core values of the people of South Africa - and that is ubuntu.”
Fransman said President Jacob Zuma had endorsed a comprehensive strategy for Somalia in February to assist the country in bringing about socio-political stability through development programmes. He said R8 million had been raised for the famine relief programme.
He said government would donate R4 million to the Gift of the Givers to cover fuel, transportation, and costs of medical supplies.
“The balance will be donated to other organisations that will undertake such relief programmes in Somalia.”
The United Nations declared a famine in the east African country after six months of drought.
Fransman said the country had a food shortage crisis with an estimated 310 000 acutely malnourished children.
Anyone wanting to donate to the Gift of the Givers for their second mission to Somalia can contact 0800 786 911 or visit its website www.giftofgivers.org. - Sapa