‘This is a great humanitarian day’
NEW YORK, Sept 8, (KUNA): Kuwait will celebrate on Sunday the fourth anniversary of the UN honoring and proclamation of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah as a “Humanitarian Leader” and of Kuwait as a “Center of Humanitarian Action”. The well-deserved UN honoring came in recognition of the outstanding contributions of Kuwait, under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah, to humanitarian action worldwide.
On Sept 9, 2014, the then-secretary general of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon held a special function at the UN headquarters in New York to express the UN and the international community appreciation for His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah and Kuwait’s generosity and kindness. “It gives me great pleasure and honor to be here today to recognize the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al- Sabah, Amir of Kuwait.
This is a great humanitarian day. We are sitting together with a great humanitarian leader of our world,” Ban said in his speech during the ceremony. He also lauded Kuwait’s exemplary humanitarian leadership, which saved thousands of lives. “Kuwait has shown exemplary humanitarian leadership in supporting these operations under the compassionate and passionate leadership of His Highness, the Amir. Kuwait may be a small country in size but she has a big and broad and compassionate heart.”
“We are here today to pay our deepest tribute to the humanitarian leadership of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber al Sabah. We thank His Highness the Amir of Kuwait and the people of Kuwait for their outstanding generosity towards Syrians and Iraqis in need.” He shed lights on Kuwait’s numerous humanitarian initiatives to offer aid to people in need a cross the globe, especially the war-torn Syria. “Every year, Kuwait hosts 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 also noted that Kuwait’s leadership and funding had saved tens of thousands of lives, and has galvanized others to participate in coordinated international action. In his speech at the ceremony, His Highness the Amir emphasized 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,” His Highness the Amir pointed out. He noted that Kuwait had been developing and modernizing the methods of providing assistance. His Highness the Amir hailed the great role played by Kuwait charities in offering the helping hand to all people in need worldwide.
“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 a shining example of benevolence characterizing the Kuwaiti people,” said His Highness the Amir. He recalled that 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. A group photo from the technical seminar.
“This was followed by official decisions to double the fixed annual voluntary contributions to a number of international agencies and organizations … 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. His Highness the Amir underlined that the acts of benevolence and philanthropy were “inherent values in the hearts of the Kuwaiti people, as inherited generation after generation from their forefathers”.
The humanitarian activism became a pillar of Kuwait’s foreign policy since His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s assumption to power in 2006 and the volume of Kuwait’s humanitarian aid notably skyrocketed.
The State of Kuwait and its Leader His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah have been active in organizing, hosting and partaking in regional and international humanitarian events. His Highness the Amir headed Kuwait’s delegation to the World Humanitarian Summit, held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on May 23, 2016 which was held to reinvigorate commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles. During his speech at the summit, His Highness the Amir announced that Kuwait was ranked first among world countries in terms of the percentage of its external humanitarian aid to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This month Kuwait stated that it had fulfilled all the aid pledges it made in the donors’ conference for Yemen in April after paying $250 million for financing humanitarian action in the war-ravaged country. During its presidency of the UN Security Council in February, Kuwait, in collaboration with Sweden, had drafted and managed to rally support for a UN resolution on a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance and evacuation of those who need urgent medical treatment.
In May, the UN approved a draft resolution presented by Kuwait and several other member states to condemn the using of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare. Also in May, Kuwait, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Peru led a UN Security Council team on a field visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar, to meet with officials from both countries and to keep a close eye on the situation of refugees that reached 700,000. In October 2017, Kuwait collaborated with the European Union to host an international donors conference in Geneva for supporting Rohingya people.
In 2014, Kuwait hosted the International Forum for Humanitarian action to give impetus to humanitarian action worldwide. Kuwait hosted two donors’ conferences for the Syrian people in 2013 and 2014 where $3.6 billion was pledged, of which Kuwait contributed an amount of $800 million. Kuwait also donated $500 million and $300 million in third and fourth donors’ conference for Syria held in London in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Kuwaiti charities and civil society organizations had also generously contributed to the humanitarian and relief work to alleviate the suffering of Syrian people inside and outside Syria over the past years. In Iraq, Kuwait rushed to help the people displaced by the war between the Iraqi army and the so-called Islamic State (IS) group. In 2015, Kuwait donated $200 million to provide aid and shelters to refugees and displaced people and the Kuwait Red Crescent Society doled out 40,000 food packaged on affected families.
In July 2016, Kuwait donated $176 million to Iraq during the donors’ conference held in Washington. Following defeat of the IS, Kuwait hosted an international conference in February 2018 to finance the reconstruction of the liberated areas to pave the way for the return of the refugees. For Yemen, Kuwait announced in 2015 allocating $100 million to finance humanitarian work there.
For supporting Palestinian people, Kuwait donated $34 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in 2009 and $15 million in 2013. Kuwait dispatched tens of trucks loaded with urgent relief and medical aid to Gaza following the Israeli offensive on the densely-populated strip in 2014. Kuwait has also increased aid to countries affected by natural disasters in the past years.