Riyadh donates additional $150m to help Yemenis

War-displaced Yemeni children stand next to a tent at a camp near Sanaa. (Reuters)
Updated 26 April 2017

Riyadh donates additional $150m to help Yemenis

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday donated $150 million (SR562 million) to the King Salman Center for Humanitarian Aid and Relief (KSRelief) to boost its work in war-torn Yemen.
The donation was announced by Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, head of the center, who led the Kingdom’s delegation to a donors’ conference in Geneva.
Al-Rabeeah said the most recent donation is part of the $8.2 billion the Kingdom has pledged to help its humanitarian and developmental assistance to Yemen since April 2015.
International donors pledged $1.1 billion for Yemen, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Tuesday. Officials did not immediately provide a full breakdown of the pledges — or specify how much was new.
Guterres appealed to the fighting sides to grant access to humanitarian relief and revive diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in which more than 10,000 civilians have died.
Guterres ended the daylong Yemen aid conference by hailing the “clear generosity and solidarity” of governments and civil society in their efforts to aid people caught up in two years of conflict in the Arab world’s poorest country.
The conference, cosponsored by the UN, Switzerland and Sweden, raised pledges of over half of the $2.1 billion sought by the UN this year.
Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr said the Houthi militias and those loyal to ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh were blocking state salaries owed to employees in areas under their control. He added that the funds pledged are enough to pay state salaries for a period of nine months in Sanaa and other cities.
“We sent 12 billion Yemeni riyals from Aden to Sanaa and Taiz, which are under the control of the Houthis, and we are still sending funds to cities, despite the obstacles, as we do not differentiate between the provinces. We will continue to support the humanitarian aid teams irrespective of where they are as there is no differentiation between provinces under the control of the government and others,” he said.
Bin Daghr stressed that the Yemeni government will continue to lend support to UN efforts and the humanitarian response plan for 2017, adding that millions of Yemeni citizens are awaiting this assistance, some facing starvation.
“Taiz is the largest city after the capital, and it has been suffering from siege and continuous shelling over the past two years. Iranian-made ballistic missiles are continuing to hit cities and neighborhoods. The destruction continued with the march of militias on the cities of Yemen, city after city, including the capital of Sanaa, Taiz, and others, resulting in a clear assault on the legitimate elected government,” said Bin Daghr.
After years of shortfall in funding for Yemen, Guterres said there is a “very encouraging signal” that the target could be met this year.
He said the pledges must now be “translated into effective support” for Yemenis.
“We basically need now three things: Access, access, access,” for humanitarian actors to reach all Yemenis in need, he said.
“On average, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” Guterres said at the opening of the conference.
“This means 50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference, and all of those deaths could have been prevented.”


Saudi Arabia’s reform drive empowering women, US diplomat says

Updated 23 February 2020

Saudi Arabia’s reform drive empowering women, US diplomat says

  • Few outside Kingdom understand the scale of female empowerment, top US diplomat tells Arab News

RIYADH: Few people outside Saudi Arabia grasp the scale of the Kingdom’s reform drive, especially in empowering women, a leading US diplomat has told Arab News.

“I was reminded of this … by a prominent Saudi woman, who is happy and proud of the reforms,” said US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

“She made the excellent point that Saudi women have been strong, capable and educated for a long time.”

The woman told Ortagus that Saudi women wanted their peers in the US to understand them, not feel pity for them. “Saudi women are not in need of being rescued,” Ortagus said,

READ FULL INTERVIEW: Saudi-US bond will last another 75 years, says US State Department spokesperson

Ortagus lived in Saudi Arabia for almost two years after she was appointed deputy US Treasury attache in 2010, and has been revisiting for the first time since then.

“It doesn’t even seem like the same country,” she said. “I didn’t recognize it. I couldn’t believe that it was the same diplomatic quarter that I used to live in 10 years ago — it is totally transformed.”

Opinion

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Washington would always welcome Saudi input on Middle East issues, she said. “We’d love the Kingdom’s help on things like the peace plan and vision that Jared Kushner has laid out. It may not be a perfect plan, but if we’re ever going to have peace in this region, it’s going to come from Saudi Arabia getting in and being involved.”