UAE praised as a pri­mary con­trib­u­tor of aid to Ye­men

ICRC pres­i­dent thanks the coun­try for help­ing to dou­ble its pro­grammes in war-torn coun­try, writes Mina Al­droubi

The National - News - - NEWS -

The pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross has praised the UAE’s role in supporting hu­man­i­tar­ian op­er­a­tions in war-rav­aged Ye­men.

“The UAE is in the core group of donors of ICRC, and we ap­pre­ci­ate their con­tri­bu­tions – in par­tic­u­lar to our Ye­men op­er­a­tions,” Peter Mau­rer said at the Emi­rates Diplo­matic Academy in Abu Dhabi.

“We hope that the UAE will ex­pand for the fu­ture.”

The UN has listed Ye­men as the world’s No 1 hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, with 17 mil­lion peo­ple there in need of food, and seven mil­lion of those at se­ri­ous risk of famine.

More than 2,000 Ye­me­nis have died in a cholera epi­demic that now af­fects al­most one mil­lion peo­ple.

The ICRC has dou­bled the num­ber of aid pro­grammes in Ye­men over the past few months. It was a nec­es­sary in­crease, Mr Mau­rer said, be­cause “only then will we be able to see more pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments”.

The enor­mous growth in the num­ber of sus­pected cholera cases in Ye­men was of great con­cern.

“This clearly is the re­sult of war and de­struc­tion of health in­fra­struc­tures, which today are at 50 per cent of their pre­war ca­pac­i­ties,” he said.

“In the past two weeks we have been able to sta­bilise the growth rate, but of course this is still the largest cholera epi­demic in decades and there­fore a big worry for us.”

He said that the Emi­rates Red Cres­cent had been a vi­tal part­ner in re­gional hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts.

“The Emi­rates Red Cres­cent is our first and fore­most part­ner in the coun­try,” the ICRC pres­i­dent said.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate their ef­forts within the UAE, but also in­ter­na­tion­ally, where in some places we work di­rectly and in­di­rectly with the UAE Red Cres­cent so­ci­ety.”

He praised the UAE for its con­tin­u­ous sup­port for world­wide hu­man­i­tar­ian op­er­a­tions and its de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes in sev­eral coun­tries, es­pe­cially in the ar­eas of health care and ed­u­ca­tion.

“We also ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that we are present here in the UAE, a place where hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­tions today are thought about, where peo­ple come to­gether to ad­dress chal­lenges and where in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law is taught.”

Speak­ing about the Syr­ian hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, Mr Mau­rer re­ferred to the sev­enth round of peace talks that took place in As­tana, the cap­i­tal of Kaza­khstan, in Oc­to­ber.

“The As­tana talks hold the prom­ise of bet­ter ac­cess [to be­sieged ar­eas to de­liver aid and ser­vices],” he said.

“We have seen bet­ter ac­cess here and there, but we have also seen an in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of war­fare.”

Fo­cus­ing on the cease­fire, the As­tana talks were es­tab­lished to try to find a way to end the six-year civil war in Syria. A key is­sue of the more re­cent ses­sions has been the es­tab­lish­ment and co-or­di­na­tion of at least four war-free zones in Syria.

“Un­for­tu­nately, at the present mo­ment we are not in a po­si­tion to say safe ar­eas are safe. They are not safe,” Mr Mau­rer said.

“We see that the war in Syria is still con­tin­u­ing in cer­tain re­spects and in cer­tain re­gions it is even in­ten­si­fy­ing, and there­fore our con­cerns are still huge.”

While the ICRC ap­pre­ci­ated the ef­forts be­ing made in As­tana, Mr Mau­rer hoped the po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic ne­go­ti­a­tions would “at a cer­tain mo­ment find trac­tion on the ground, but it’s too early to say whether they will, while at the present time we un­for­tu­nately see fur­ther on­go­ing war­fare”.

Dur­ing his visit to Abu Dhabi Mr Mau­rer met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the Armed Forces, and Sheikh Ab­dul­lah bin Zayed, Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Co-op­er­a­tion.

“The meet­ings helped to chart the way for­ward to ce­ment­ing co-op­er­a­tion in ar­eas of train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion. I am very happy and sat­is­fied with how this kind of col­lab­o­ra­tion is pro­gress­ing,” he said.

“I have been greatly en­cour­aged by the re­sponse and pos­i­tive feed­back from Sheikh Mohammed as well as Sheikh Ab­dul­lah of ICRC’s ac­tiv­i­ties.”

In the past two weeks we have sta­bilised the growth rate, but this is still the largest cholera epi­demic in decades PETER MAU­RER ICRC pres­i­dent

Pawan Singh / The Na­tional

ICRC pres­i­dent Peter Mau­rer at Emi­rates Diplo­matic Academy in Abu Dhabi

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