Aid workers helpless in face of growing security threats, summit told
Middle East conflict is world’s ‘greatest humanitarian issue,’ US adviser warns
RIYADH: Aid workers faced mounting challenges because of the worsening security situation in many countries, the first International Humanitarian Forum was told on Tuesday.
During the two-day forum, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) signed two agreements with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) worth $2.3 million to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and $1.1 million to help Syrian refugees in Greece.
US Agency for International Development (USAID) senior adviser Thomas Stahl told the summit that rising tension in war-torn regions left aid workers struggling to carry out relief operations.
Social and psychological assistance, as well as food and medicine, were needed to help affected people, he said.
More than 1,000 delegates and representatives of 60 national and global organizations attended the summit, which was opened by King Salman.
Stahl told the forum the biggest humanitarian issue was the problem of immigrants fleeing their homelands as a result of conflict, especially in the Middle East.
The World Health Organization’s Executive Director of Emergency Health, Peter Salama, said: “We are working in 28 countries around the world, including Yemen, South Sudan, and Iraq.”
He warned of the growing difficulty reaching crisis-hit areas.
UNICEF Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa Geert Cappelaere told Arab News that millions of children are suffering from man-made disasters. He said it was “timely” that countries such as Saudi Arabia had offered humanitarian aid to the distressed populations of the world.
Mostsafa Al-Sayed, secretary-general of the Royal Charity Organization in Bahrain, said the summit “serves those who are victims of conflicts.”
By holding the conference, King Salman has sent a clear message to the world urging people to avoid conflicts that could lead to humanitarian crises, he said.
The aid covered 999 projects in 78 countries for the current phase, implemented through 150 partners, including international, national and UN organizations as well as governments of recipient countries.
The assistance was provided in 10 humanitarian, development and charitable sectors, including humanitarian and emergency relief, education, health, water, public health, transportation, religious and social charity, energy generation and supply, and agriculture.
Saudi Arabia provides assistance to countries regardless of religion or race, and is one of the world’s 10 most charitable countries through providing cash and in-kind support in the form of grants and soft loans to support developing countries.
For the current phase, projects covered five continents: Asia at $21.040 billion (66.33 percent of total aid), followed by Africa at $9.76 billion (30.76 percent), Europe at $379 million (1.19 percent), North America at $376.3 million (1.19 percent), and finally Europe and Central Asia at $170.3 million (0.54 percent).
The Kingdom’s financial contributions to UN organizations, international bodies and regional development, and humanitarian and charitable funds in the current phase amounted to 489 financial contributions of SR3.49 billion ($929 million), distributed over three sectors: Budgets and general programs of funds and organizations, development bodies and humanitarian and emergency relief assistance to UN organizations and international bodies, and religious and social charitable works for international and regional bodies.
During this phase, the 10 countries that received most of the humanitarian, development, and charitable assistance of grants and soft loans were: Yemen with total aid worth $13.37 billion to implement 285 projects; Syria with $2.35 billion for 95 projects; Egypt with $1.84 billion for 20 projects; Niger with $1.32 billion for 7 projects; Mauritania with $1.22 billion for 14 projects; Afghanistan with $567.1 million for 29 projects; China with $549.9 million for 10 projects; Pakistan with $521.9 million for 108 projects; Jordan with $516.9 million for 11 projects; and Tunisia with $514.2 million for the implementation of nine projects.
The rest of the aid was distributed throughout 68 countries around the world.
King Salman receives the delegation of the Elders group headed by former UN SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan, at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. During the meeting, they reviewed the group’s efforts to promote world peace and stability. (SPA)