Human Rights

Saudi Arabia kicks off Yemen relief campaign

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre supervisor general Abdullah al-Rabeeah speaks at a January 22nd press conference in Riyadh, where the kingdom announced it will provide a package of $1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid for Yemen. [Fayez Nureldine/AFP]

Saudi Arabia recently launched a comprehensive humanitarian campaign to deliver aid to the Yemeni people in 2018 which will see the establishment of 17 land crossings and an air bridge, campaign officials said.

King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) supervisor general Abdullah al-Rabeeah announced the launch of the Yemen Comprehensive Humanitarian Operation from Riyadh on January 22nd, local media reported.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other coalition member states have provided $1.5 billion in support of the plan, al-Rabeeah said, noting that Saudi Arabia provided assistance to Yemen totaling $10.4 billion between May 2015 to January 2018.

KSRelief has implemented 175 projects in Yemen valued at $821.8 million, in collaboration with 77 partners, including the UN and international and local non-governmental organisatons (NGOs), he said.

Relief by land and air

According to Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Saeed al-Jaber, the plan includes comprehensive humanitarian operations in Yemen, including the establishment of an air bridge from coalition countries to Marib.

Marib has been chosen due to its strategic location in the central region, he said, adding that there will be daily flights by C-130 transport planes to deliver relief.

The air bridge will be made available to international organisations to deliver essential supplies and aid, he added.

"Comprehensive humanitarian operations in Yemen also will include the delivery of relief by land through the setup of secure land crossings to densely populated areas inside Yemen, as aid in those areas is typically urgently needed," he said.

The Arab coalition will establish 17 safe land crossings that branch out from six border sites to facilitate the delivery of aid into Yemen, he said.

"These routes will be added to the list of sites that are prohibited from being targeted," he said, noting that the list includes about 40,000 sites that are excluded from being targeted.

Projects that create jobs

"Saudi Arabia remains at the forefront of supporters of the Yemeni government and people," Yemeni Minister of Local Administration Abdul Raqeeb Fatah told Al-Mashareq, noting that he discussed the relief plan with al-Rabeeah in Riyadh.

The two discussed the "transition to the second phase of Saudi support for Yemen, which includes support for development projects", or the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), he said.

These reduce unemployment by supporting projects that create jobs for youth and women and thereby provide a source of livelihood, he said, noting that this type of support must occur in parallel with the relief efforts.

The kingdom’s $2 billion deposit in the Central Bank in Aden also will contribute to "stabilising the price of the riyal and the economic situation", he said.

"Saudi Arabia is one of the most important supporters of relief and humanitarian efforts," said Zaid al-Alaya, public information officer at the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sanaa.

Easing pressures and burdens

Al-Alaya called on Saudi Arabia to expedite the fulfillment of its pledge as part of the UN-sponsored humanitarian response plan.

"The faster donors pay their pledges, the quicker the response plans will be able to reach the needy before it is too late," he told Al-Mashareq.

The new plan will "ease the pressure and burdens shouldered by humanitarian relief organisations", said Adnan Hizam, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Sanaa.

The diversity of aid announced by KSRelief will be welcome, he told Al-Mashareq, "and will enter Yemen through land and air ports, thus increasing the effectiveness of its delivery to targeted recipients in all Yemeni cities".

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Thank you, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for providing humanitarian assistance to your brothers in the Arab Yemeni Republic. We thank King Salman ibn Abdul Aziz Al Saud, may God save him!