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)

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