Saudi Arabia has so far donated $1.23 billion to the World Food Programme (WFP), according to Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Advisor at the Royal Court and Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief).
Dr. Al Rabeeah participated as a guest speaker at the meeting of the second regular session of the WFP Executive Board, which was held on Monday in Rome.
Dr. Al Rabeeah extended his thanks and appreciation to the WFP and the Executive Board for inviting him to participate in this important meeting. He also congratulated the WFP for being awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, stating that this prize is very well-deserved and reflects the world community’s understanding of the vital role being played by the WFP in alleviating the suffering of so many people in need around the world.
The KSrelief Supervisor General stated that the partnership between Saudi Arabia and WFP extends over a period of more than 45 years. He noted that from the outset of the partnership, the cooperation was based on mutual dedication to providing urgent and comprehensive assistance, particularly food aid, to communities and populations facing severe food shortages due to different crises such as natural disasters, conflicts, and internal and cross-border migration.
Dr. Al Rabeeah added that this partnership began in the wake of the economic crisis of 1973. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided $50 million to WFP between 1975 and 1976 to support its food aid projects targeting beneficiaries affected by this crisis. This donation played a major role in establishing WFP as a distinguished international humanitarian actor.
When the global financial crisis erupted in 2008, the Kingdom announced the provision of a historic and generous grant in the amount of $500 million to WFP to support its food aid projects and provide urgent food assistance for millions of people affected by high food prices, he said.
Dr. Al Rabeeah further added: “In 2014 the Kingdom also contributed more than $200 million to provide food for displaced families in Iraq, as well as refugees from Syria, South Sudan and Somalia. The Kingdom continued its role in supporting WFP via providing, between 2005 and 2021, an estimated $1.9 billion to support 124 projects in the food and food security sectors. In addition, the Kingdom’s annual ‘Gift of Dates’ project has provided 4,500 tons of Saudi-grown dates to be distributed through WFP to provide nutritional assistance and support for communities in need in a number of countries.”
Dr. Al Rabeeah stated the partnership between Saudi Arabia and the World Food Programme witnessed a historic transformation with the inauguration of KSrelief in May 2015 by the Kingdom’s leadership. KSrelief was established to act as the Kingdom’s humanitarian arm to manage, coordinate and monitor all of Saudi Arabia’s international aid. Since KSrelief’s inception, WFP has been one of the center’s strongest and most effective partners in addressing challenges caused by hunger, food insecurity and the devastating effects of malnutrition. There is also a permanent WFP representative at KSrelief to enhance high-level coordination between the two organizations.
Until 2021, KSrelief contributed $1.23 billion to WFP for food assistance programs in 24 countries. In Yemen, 27 programs have been implemented with WFP at a cost of $1.16 billion. The locations of these programs included areas under the control of Houthi militias, who deliberately committed many humanitarian violations, including blocking and stealing the aid for their own purposes.
KSrelief and other humanitarian aid providers have all been affected by these violations, which limit the ability of aid agencies to reach targeted beneficiaries. We therefore call on the international community and humanitarian organizations, particularly the WFP, to play an active role in forcing the Houthi militias to stop these illegal practices and accept peaceful solutions to the conflict in Yemen, according to the three references and the Saudi initiative to establish peace in Yemen, he added.
Dr. Al Rabeeah stated that “KSrelief deeply appreciates the strong strategic partnership with the WFP and values the many years of close cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and WFP. We also appreciate WFP’s effective responses and rapid action over the past two years in areas that have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as climate change and other crises, which all pose a great challenge to humanitarian aid providers, especially in light of their negative impact on our ability to reach those who are most in need of our assistance.”
In conclusion, Dr. Al Rabeeah stated, “KSrelief affirms that our joint mission is to address food insecurity and improve the health and living conditions of vulnerable communities around the world. We must redouble our efforts to develop more sustainable solutions to fight hunger and alleviate suffering, because we understand that saving lives, restoring dignity and providing hope are our primary responsibility and greatest endeavor.”