Kuwait’s humanitarian efforts save millions of refugees: UNHCR official

Dr Hanan Hamdan

KUWAIT: The great humanitarian initiatives launched in recent years by Kuwait, led by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, have had a significant impact on saving millions of refugees’ lives around the world, a UN official affirmed yesterday.

Kuwait is a vital factor and part of the international efforts to meet urgent humanitarian needs for refugees in the region and across the globe through mobilizing international support, holding international donors’ conferences, and urging countries and key donors to honor their commitments, Dr Hanan Hamdan, Head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Kuwait, said ahead of celebrating World Refugees Day, held annually on June 20th.

In 2016, Kuwait has contributed $360 million to UNHCR to resolve the crises in Syria and Iraq, Hamdan noted, indicating that the Gulf country was also placed second in donations’ value for the Syrian people at the third international donors’ conference in 2015, pledging $500 million.

On the international level, Kuwait is UNHCR’s sixth largest donor, she mentioned, adding cooperation and strategic partnerships between the two sides have continued in 2017, where UNHCR and Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) signed a $10 million-worth agreement to improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees in north Iraq.

The UNHCR’s office in Kuwait has had the privilege to cooperate with the Kuwaiti private sector in favor of refugees, signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2016 with Zain Group, one the leading telecommunication companies in the country, to support Syrian refugees and improve their situations, in addition to launching a joint e-campaign, entitled #ZainWithRefugees, to raise funds for helping children and their families survive the harsh winter conditions.
Hamdan also valued Kuwait’s continued commitment toward the international humanitarian action, and strategic partnership with international humanitarian organizations and UNHCR.

Meanwhile, the UN official mentioned that UNHCR has always been present at the front lines of major humanitarian crises in the world, including Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, affirming the Commissioner’s continuous efforts to resolve issue of the largest number of refugees around the world to date.
Over 65.3 million people worldwide were forced to leave their homes, including nearly 21.3 million refugees, among whom are under 18 years of age, Hamdan noted, adding that increasing rate in the number of refugees could cause a “serious humanitarian crisis.”

In Somalia, migrations among people, until 2017, has reached some two million Somalis, while internally displacement country has come to some 1.9 million Somalis, she said. In Yemen, around three million people, until 2017, have migrated their cities and towns due to armed conflicts and famine, adding that one million Yemenis have returned to their homes amid continued risky situations.

Furthermore, over 1.8 million people, including one million children, in South Sudan have migrated their country to Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo, and Central Africa, seeking safety and security, said the UN official.
In Syria, Hamdan said that over five million Syrians have sought refuge in a number of countries in the Middle East, Europe, Canada, US, and Australia, adding that the number of internally displaced persons, until 2017, rose to 6.5 million, including 2.8 million children.

In World Refugee Day, UNHCR commemorates the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees, she noted, adding that this year; World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee. The UNHCR, also known as the UN Refugee Agency, was established on 14 December 1950 by the UN General Assembly.
The UN agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.

It also strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people. UNHCR provides international protection to refugees who do not enjoy the protection of their governments. – KUNA

This article was published on 19/06/2017