His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon

KUWAIT: The first anniversary of the United Nation’s honoring of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as a humanitarian leader and Kuwait as a humanitarian center is celebrated today. The honoring came after the numerous contributions by Kuwait’s top leader towards humanitarian causes around the globe leading the UN to honor Sheikh Sabah at a ceremony held in the UN headquarters in New York on September 9th, 2014. Amongst the main reasons for the honoring was Kuwait’s continuous contribution to aid the Syrian refugees with the Gulf state having held three donors conferences, which collected around $3.8 billion to help Syrian refugees.

Kuwait donated around $1.3 billion to help the refugees. Delivering a speech at the ceremony last year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said “For more than three years, we have witnessed an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East. First in Syria, now in Iraq, we have seen the terrible consequences of the conflict.” “But in response to this death and chaos, we have seen remarkable acts of human kindness and generosity. Kuwait has shown exemplary humanitarian leadership in supporting these operations.

Under the leadership of the Amir, Kuwait has hosted two pledging conferences – in 2013 and 2014 – and it hosts the meetings of the Top Donors Group for Syria,” he said. “Every year, Kuwait holds a regional conference on partnerships for effective humanitarian action. Kuwait has also increased its support for multilateral humanitarian action, exponentially since the start of the crisis in Syria. In the past two years, Kuwait has donated hundreds of millions of dollars for humanitarian operations – not only in the Middle East, but in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan,” he said. “Kuwait’s leadership and funding has saved live and has galvanized others to participate in coordinated international action. At a time when so many of our appeals are underfunded, it is good to know we can count on Kuwait’s generosity,” he added. “Your Excellency, we thank you and count on your continued support,” Ban concluded by expressing deep gratitude for these efforts.

Annual contribution
His Highness the Amir delivered a speech during the ceremony he said “I am pleased to announce before you of doubling our fixed annual voluntary contribution to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to $1 million.” His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad highly appreciated the honoring as a “special occasion” and said that Kuwait, since its independence and gaining the UN membership, has followed a steady approach in its foreign policy, based essentially on humanitarian assistance to all needy countries “regardless of their geographic location, religious beliefs or ethnic origins.” This assistance is in “pursuance of its belief and conviction of the importance of international partnership, as well as the unification and activation of international efforts, aimed at the maintenance and preservation of the foundations of life – that is – the human spirit,” said His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Sabah, noting that Kuwait has always been developing and modernizing the methods of providing assistance. He said an initiative announced by late Kuwaiti Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to write off interest of soft loans to numerous developing and least developed countries in 1988 “has become a precedent in international humanitarian work, thereby initiating a quantum leap in the assistance methods of Kuwaiti diplomacy, which exemplified the genuine understanding of humanitarian needs highlighting the humanitarian concept of such loans and assistance.” “Kuwaiti charitable associations and peoples’ fundraising committees have set an example in their continued support of many humanitarian projects in Asia and Africa, by individual initiatives that have become – by the blessing of Allah – a shining example of benevolence characterizing the Kuwaiti people,” said the Kuwaiti leader.

10 percent
His Highness the Amir said in 2008 Kuwait earmarked 10 percent of its total humanitarian assistance to countries affected by natural or man-made disasters to be channeled to UN organizations and specialized agencies active in the humanitarian field. “This was followed by official decisions to double the fixed annual voluntary contributions to a number of international agencies and organizations such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This has provided the humanitarian work of Kuwait with wider horizons and more comprehensive dimensions to promote direct cooperation in the various crises, with those international bodies,” he said. HH The AmirSheikh Sabah underlined that the acts of benevolence and philanthropy are “inherent values in the hearts of the Kuwaiti people, as they are inherited generation after generation from their forefathers,” adding that the Kuwaiti people kept offering aid for those in need even when they faced hardships in the past, in reference to the 1990-91 Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmadsaid that Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), which was established in 1961, was an expression of sincere desire of Kuwait in providing assistance to Arab states and friendly countries through providing soft loans and technical assistance in support of their efforts to achieve their development. The gross amount of loans provided by the fund during more than half a century reached $17.6 billion benefitting 103 countries, representing 1.2 percent of Kuwait’s gross national income (GNI), exceeding the 0.7 percent of GNI the UN has determined in 1970 as an indicator of the official development assistance to be provided by developed countries. Kuwait, noted the Kuwaiti leader, hosted two donors’ conferences for the Syrian people in 2013 and 2014 in which $3.6 billion was pledged..

His Highness the Amir highlighted the UN’s important role to confronting challenges facing social peace and political security around the world. “I also would like to renew that the commitment of Kuwait – which has always been a firm and genuine supporter and an effective member of the United Nations – is still of the same conviction and shall remain so, out of its belief in the noble message of the United Nations in the preservation of international peace and security, the dissemination of the principals of justice and equality and ensuring a life of dignity and welfare to the people of the world,” said His Highness the Amir. — KUNA