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01 August 2011

SA aid group set for Somalia

Two planes carrying a South African medical team, including dieticians, paediatricians and food supplies, are expected to land in famine-hit Somalia later today.

KZN-based aid organisation, Gift of the Givers, is taking 41 tons of water, food and medicines and has put together a team of 19 doctors and 10 volunteers that will be assisting relief efforts in the east African country's capital, Mogadishu.

The organisation's Yacoob Essop says South Africans have shown ubuntu and generously donated to the cause.

He says initially they only had enough funds and stock for one flight to Somalia, however there are now four flights - with the last two heading out later this week.

Essop says at this stage, they'll be concentrating on children first, as they are most affected by the food shortage.

"So they will work in special teams as they assess the malnourished population there," he said.

"The predominant population group that has been affected adversely has been the children, so obviously that's why we sent paediatricians who can oversee their management. We'll try and re-hydrate the children as we feed them and then put them into a stabilisation phase with the special nutritional material that we've taken with."

For more information about the Gift of the Givers and how to donate, you can call the toll-free number: 0800 786 911 or visit www.giftofthegivers.org

- East Coast Radio: Durban