KUWAIT: The State of Kuwait has offered robust support to the relief effort for the refugees and the internally-displaced people around the globe, a step earning global praise particularly at a time when the United Nations prepares for celebrating the World Refugee Day.
The Day has been marked on June 20th, ever since the UN General Assembly, on December 4th 2000, adopted resolution 55/76. It coincides this year with the 66th anniversary of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), created in 1950 in the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes. Kuwait’s humanitarian policy is distinguished for its non-discrimination among aid recipients because of their race, nationality, faith or political affiliations.
Since its independence, the country has been known for its relief effort and this role became more crystal clear in the recent year which encouraged the United Nations in 2014 to honor His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as Humanitarian Leader and Kuwait as center of humanitarian action. Kuwait maintained its impressive presence at all regional and international activities and forums relating to humanitarian action and alleviation of the suffering of conflict-hit people.
In May of 2016, His Highness the Amir took part and delivered a speech to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. In his speech, His Highness the Amir said: “Kuwait has long been acclaimed for its deep belief in humanitarian values and helping hand for the needy people.
“The total value of Kuwait’s contributions to the relief effort in the last five years exceeded $2 billion, which made the country the world’s biggest aid donor in terms of the ratio of aid to the country’s GDP,” he pointed out.
Kuwait’s humanitarian role is shared by the government and civil society institutions such as Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) and the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO). The Kuwaiti fund-raising agencies responded promptly to the needs of refugees and displaced people in countries that were hit by armed conflicts or natural disasters.
Their aid campaigns ranged between famine relief, medical supplies, and educational, health and housing services inside the refugee camps. The following are examples, in part and in effect, of Kuwait’s contributions to the relief efforts.
For Palestine, His Highness the Amir announced in January, 2009, a Kuwaiti donation of $34 million to the humanitarian activities for the Palestinian people in response to an appeal by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Besides that, Kuwait contributed $15 million to the Agency in 2013 and launched an aid campaign for Gaza Strip in 2014 in the wake of the Israeli aggression in July.
In the aftermath of Iraq war in 2003, Kuwait offered emergency relief for the internally-displaced people; the aid continued to increase until it hit $200 million last year which made Kuwait the biggest aid donor for Iraq.
In the run-up to the Holy Month of Ramadan, last year KRCS distributed nearly 40,000 food parcels to the displaced families in Kurdistan region, north Iraq, while the Kuwaiti charities distributed more than 12,000 food parcels shortly before Ramadan this year.
As for Syria, Kuwait hosted three international humanitarian pledging conferences, the first of which took place in January, 2013, when His Highness the Amir donated $300 million. The second conference in the following saw the Kuwaiti aid pledges rising to $500 million and in the third, held in March, 2015, Kuwait contributed additional $500 million.
The State of Kuwait was also present in fourth similar gathering titled ‘Supporting Syria and the Region Conference,’ in London, last February. His Highness the Amir announced additional aid of $300 million for the Syrian refugees over the coming three years. Regarding Yemen, Kuwait contributed $100 million to the humanitarian action in response to the raging conflict last year.
As for response to natural disasters, Kuwaiti fund-raising agencies, notably the Direct Aid and the Zakat House, scaled up their efforts to alleviate the suffering of the drought-hit Somalis in 2012. The aid they offered amounted to KD 508,600 (nearly $1.69 million).
In November of 2007, when the tropical Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh and left nearly 3,447 deaths, Kuwait donated $10 million to the emergency aid campaign for the country. It is self-evident that Kuwait provides a good example for other rich countries to follow. While the World Refugee Day is being celebrated this year, the UN aid agencies estimate the number of refugees and internally-displaced persons at 60 million worldwide. – KUNA