Saudi donations helped avoid famine, says UN

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 24, 2019 (Xinhua) — The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the opening of the General Debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 24, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Muzi/IANS)

JEDDAH (Rahnuma):: The generous donations for humanitarian works from Saudi Arabia helped avoid famine and protected families in Yemen, a top UN official said on Sunday.

Speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum (RIHF), Mark Lowcock, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said: “Because of Saudi generosity, as the Kingdom donated $500 million for humanitarian work in Yemen, the UN agencies were able to avoid famine and protect families’ health in Yemen.”

The forum was organized by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) in partnership with the UN and under the auspices of King Salman.

“Now conflicts are taking a longer time and are more lethal,” said Lowcock. “We have 70 million refugees all over the world as a result of conflicts.” He underlined that the world was facing three major challenges: Climate change, progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the rising risk of pandemics.

“As the current president of the G20, Saudi Arabia can showcase the group’s resolve to take action on climate change and make progress on the SDGs,” he said.

“The third challenge we face is the rise in pandemics,” Lowcock added, referring to outbreaks of measles and AEbola in Africa, and the coronavirus outbreak in China.

“The only way to respond to these humanitarian challenges is by resolving conflict, by taking action to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and by delivering on the SDGs.”

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “The Kingdom’s humanitarian actions are based on a clear and stable strategy. It doesn’t consider any political purposes or any religious or ethnic groups, which is the principle that Saudi Arabia has taken in its humanitarian dealings.”

He praised KSRelief saying: “In a short period, the center has achieved international acknowledgment for its humanitarian works.”

He added: “Saudi Arabia is hosting the G20 Summit, and the accompanying economic, political and humanitarian renaissance. It reflects the Kingdom’s keenness to be an active member in the international community to serve the common international interests.”

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