RIYADH,Saudi Arabia, 22 May 2019 – A High-Level Saudi-UAE-OCHA Humanitarian Meeting to Support Yemen was held on Wednesday at King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) headquarters in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
The meeting was attended by officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); including: HE Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Supervisor General of KSrelief; HE Reem Al-Hashimi, the UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation; HE Sir Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator;HE Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations;Saudi Ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Mohammed Al-Jaber; UAE’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs, Mr. Sultan Al Shamsi and UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Ms. Lise Grande.
In addition to addressing the meeting’s agenda, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also signed two agreements – one with the World Health Organization (WHO), and one with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The joint project with WHO will support Yemen’s WASH sector and treat malnutrition with a total funding amount of USD 40 million. The joint project with UNICEF will combat cholera at a total cost of USD 20 million.
HE Sir Mark Lowcock addressed the press following the meeting:
“Salam alaykum (peace be with you). Ramadan Kareem. I am very pleased to be talking to the media today. The war in Yemen is taking a terrible toll. We have seen more than four years of bombing, shelling and fighting, cholera and other diseases and starvation, and millions of people forced to flee their homes.
“There have been violations on all sides. Recently, there’s been a series of completely unacceptable attacks on Saudi Arabia by missiles and drones. As we’ve consistently done, we in the United Nations unreservedly condemn these attacks.
“Who is paying the price of all the fighting? It’s the ordinary people of Yemen. Even if peace comes today, it will take years to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure of Yemen. It will take decades to build an economy where everyone can have a decent income and look after their family. And it will take generations to heal the grievances and trauma, and the divide and the fragmentation the conflict has caused across Yemeni society.
“The first thing that’s needed is peace. The United Nations is doing everything it can to support efforts to make peace. My colleague, Martin Griffiths, who is the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, who you all know, is leading that work. He and I work closely together, and I saw him again just two days ago.
“Alongside that, the United Nations strives with partner countries to reduce the humanitarian consequences of the conflict. Twenty-four million Yemenis – that’s eight people in ten across the country – need humanitarian assistance this year.”
“The United Nations is appealing for 4.2 billion dollars to meet the needs of 15 million of those people. In February in Geneva, donors pledged 2.6 billion dollars. Most of that was promised by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who offered 1.5 billion dollars. Shukran jazeelan (many thanks).
“Last year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provided 930 million dollars through a single block grant to the United Nations to support the humanitarian operation. That block grant was absolutely instrumental in scaling up the aid operation; it certainly saved millions of lives, and I continue to view this approach as a global best-practice in humanitarian support and donorship.
“As I told the UN Security Council last week, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates recently made a further 300-million-dollar contribution from a pledge announced last November. As a result of this financing, the United Nations agencies were able to implement the world’s biggest humanitarian relief operation last year.
“In the first two months of this year, more than 130 agencies worked together to provide nearly ten million people every month with food, water, healthcare, and other assistance. Such a large operation is difficult to run in the middle of a war, and none of it is problem- free. We know that aid diversion and attempts at aid diversion are a real challenge in Yemen. We will not tolerate this.
“Parties to conflict must not misappropriate aid intended for civilians in need. As my colleague David Beasley, who runs the World Food Programme, has just said, ‘We will investigate all credible allegations, and we will take appropriate action, including suspending programs if necessary’.
“So, I’ve been here in Riyadh – actually my fifth visit to the Kingdom since I took over this role in late 2017 – for discussions on the arrangements for support from KSA and UAE to contribute to the UN appeal for 2019. Dr. Al Rabeeah announced the Kingdom’s contribution in Geneva. His Majesty King Salman confirmed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations when they met recently that the Kingdom would support the UN to avoid the people of Yemen’s suffering. And Her Excellency (Reem Al-Hashimi) was very clear in the support UAE would provide to the United Nations, also in Geneva. And we now need to agree the detailed arrangements, and that is what we have been discussing.
“The first step to a better future for the people of Yemen, is simply to help them, particularly women and children, survive the present. That’s what the humanitarian operation is doing. It needs to continue. That’s only possible if it continues to be funded. Shukran (thank you).”