Donation fraud: Con men cashing in on Syria crisis

Updated 28 June 2013
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Donation fraud: Con men cashing in on Syria crisis

A large number of bank accounts opened purportedly to collect funds for Syrians are fake, according to Talat Hafiz, secretary-general of the media and banking awareness committee of Saudi banks.
“We can confirm that so far we don’t have any donation campaigns for Syria. Some individuals are opening small offices and running advertisements urging donations for Syria. Such calls by individuals are unrecognized. Any donation campaign has to be managed or certified by the government,” he said.
In recent days, a good number of such pseudo campaigns have spread in the Kingdom's social media. Information about these is also e-mailed to some unsuspecting Saudis.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), which is tasked with monitoring accounts that transform money to Syria or any other country in crisis due to war or poverty, will take action against these fake accounts.
“Opening donation accounts requires official approval from higher authorities, in addition to the fulfillment of several requirements by Saudi banks and the SAMA,” Hafiz said.
Many Syrian expats, as well as some Saudis, are distressed by what they call the “misuse” of the Syrian crisis. They say many people beg, claiming they are Syrians displaced by the war, just to gain people’s sympathy.
“I work in a retail shop at Aziz Mall. I noticed an elderly woman regularly visiting the mall to beg. She would specifically seek Saudi customers and Syrians. She claimed that she came to the Kingdom after the civil war started in Syria but I had been seeing her for long,” said Saad Koushk, a Syrian who works in a makeup store.
He added: “As a Syrian I felt sorry for her and asked her about her current status and her origins. She claimed that she is from Homs, and particularly from Bab Amor. She didn’t appear to be Syrian and neither did her dialect,” he said.
Koushk then asked the woman to show him her ID or passport. When she did, he discovered that she was, in fact, a Palestinian.
“We feel sorry when we see people beg and try to get money in the name of the Syrian crisis,” he said.
A Saudi woman told Arab News that she had a Yemeni driver, who used to collect money from her and her friends on a monthly basis, which he claimed he was giving to a Syrian family living in the Kingdom.
“After a few months we decided not to give money to that driver because when we gave him used clothes or furniture he would refuse them. He only accepted money. If he were honest and there was really a needy family, the family would accept everything, such as clothes, food, furniture and other stuff, in addition to money,” said Hala Ahmad, a Saudi housewife.


Saudi Arabia to send Syrians an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid

Updated 26 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia to send Syrians an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid

  • Total relief provided by the Kingdom since the war began now stands at about $1billion
  • Latest package announced by Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir at conference in Brussels

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of the people of Syria, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The announcement of the latest aid package was made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir on April 25 at an international conference on the future of Syria and the region, held in the Belgian capital Brussels. He pointed out that the meeting comes after the suspected chemical attack in the city of Douma, in eastern Ghouta, which killed dozens of civilians, including women and children.

“The world is facing a regime allied with terrorist militias who believe that spreading atrocities and committing crimes will bring victory to it, and that war crimes are bearing fruit,” said Al-Jubeir. “In addition to bombing civilians with explosive barrels, the policies of starvation and siege, ethnic and sectarian cleansing, and the demographic change of Syrian cities and towns, its use of chemical weapons have shocked the entire world.”

He said that the only acceptable solution to the Syrian crisis is a peaceful political resolution, and that Saudi Arabia has been working to achieve this since the crisis began, while also working with others to end the continuing human tragedy in the war-torn country.

The Kingdom has played a role in unifying the ranks of the Syrian opposition and encouraging them to speak with one voice, he added. After the Riyadh 1 Conference in 2015, Saudi Arabia hosted the Riyadh 2 conference for the Syrian opposition in November 2017, which succeeded in unifying the factions and establishing a negotiating body to take part in the rounds of talks held since then, earning praise from the United Nations.

The foreign minister also reiterated his country’s support for the efforts of the UN secretary-general’s envoy, Stephan de Mistura, to resume negotiations between all sides of the conflict.

“The Kingdom hopes that the agreements endorsed by the international resolutions on the ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to its beneficiaries will be implemented throughout Syria, regardless of their ethnic, religious, sectarian or political affiliations, and calls for the speedy release of detainees and abductees and clarifying the situation of those absent,” said Al-Jubeir. “It also renews its demand to punish individuals and institutions for war crimes and to prevent their impunity.”

He added that the worsening humanitarian crisis affecting refugees inside and outside of Syria should add to the urgency of finding a political solution and resuming the negotiating process as soon as possible.

Since the war began, the Kingdom has taken in about two and a half million Syrians and treats them like its own citizens, Al-Jubeir said, providing them with free health care, work and education. Saudi universities and schools have more than 140,000 Syrian students. He added that Saudi Arabia is also supporting and helping to care for of millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, in coordination with the governments of those countries. The humanitarian assistance provided so far totals about $1 billion.