Thanks to several celebrity tweets, the call to spread awareness of the need for aid in Somalia and neighboring countries in East Africa is top of mind (or at least fingers) for those passing word on to their followers on social media.
Ben Stiller recorded a video explaining the importance of the hashtag, started by French Snapchat star Jerome Jarre, who appeared in “Zoolander 2” alongside the actor in 2016.
“I know there’s so much going on in the world so it’s kind of hard to focus on stuff that’s going on outside of our own experience,” Stiller said in the video.
Jarre had posted his own video (see below) on Wednesday in French with English subtitles, explaining that a volunteer in Somalia had called him to ask for his help, saying they had just been watching a 6-year-old girl dying from dehydration.
Since Turkish Airlines flies to Somalia, the hope is to put enough social media pressure on the airline to get it to send a plane full of food and water to the country. Where to get that food and water? Jarre proposed that companies could make donations to be loaded onto the plane.
“So maybe I am going to sound crazy now, but what if we could find an airplane?” Jarre, 26, said in the video, which has been retweeted 37,000 times. “And we filled it with food and water and sent it to Somalia?”
A severe drought in Somalia has been causing deaths due to dehydration and cholera. Animals like cows have been withering away while the country is at risk for famine.
In February, the United Nations declared a famine in South Sudan, which the BBC reported was the first famine anywhere in six years, meaning that at least 20 percent of households are contending with serious food shortages, acute malnutrition rates have surged to more than 30 percent and the death rate is more than two people each day per 10,000 people in conditions attributed to civil war and economic problems. Nigeria and Yemen have also been at risk for famine.
This month Antonio Guterres, U.N. secretary-general, visited Somalia to make an appeal for $825 million in aid for 5.5 million Somalis, the New York Times reported.
Stiller said he thought the push for a plane to carry food and and water to Somalia could at least drive interest in the problems affecting East African countries.
“It’s kind of a crazy idea but I think it could work and I think by doing something like this, it could get a lot of media attention, because there’s no media attention on what’s going on there right now and it could start a snowball effect to try to get people to take action to help with what’s going on over there right now,” he said. Stiller encouraged people to share the hashtag with their own messages in support of the effort. Jarre appeared at the end of Stiller’s video.
NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick also heeded Jarre’s call to action, posting an Instagram video in which he asked his followers to make videos in support of the Turkish Airlines plan in their own languages.
“We can help create the change,” he said. “We can help be the change. Let’s make this happen. Let’s help save these lives.”