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How is Aid Distributed? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The question is not one about the principle of donating to stricken communities, especially when a country enjoys financial surplus; rather, the question is how will this aid be used?

This question is raised because of the generous support provided by Saudi Arabia as it had donated a hundred million dollars to Bangladesh following the recent cyclone that afflicted the country in comparison to the shameful amounts that other wealthy countries had offered. Japan announced that it had graciously offered less than half a million dollars and the European Union pledged to offer less than seven million Euros!

Whoever witnessed the horror of Cyclone Sidr and the destruction that it had brought upon the people of Bangladesh can only sympathize with this poor nation. Most of those who were affected are poor and the natural catastrophe resulted in them losing their source of livelihood such as cattle and farms; they now face disease and live in the open.

Therefore, it becomes necessary to ask about the method in which such aid is disbursed. On many occasions, aid has arrived too late for logistical or administrative reasons and at times it does not arrive at all. In some cases, aid reaches the pockets of undeserving people.

I heard, with disbelief, what had happened to some of the Saudi money that was donated to Lebanon after the destruction caused by the Israeli war. I had heard that hundreds of millions of dollars collected for the Lebanese people especially in Shia areas were taken by Hezbollah. Is it conceivable that a country provides aid to citizens yet the money is confiscated by an organization or government in such manner?

If the above is true, then I must say that it is utterly shameful and that there is no justification for it as this aid was offered as humanitarian assistance and nothing else. This takes us back to square one; how can one offer aid to the needy? This question confuses many international organizations for relief because of the inability to make the most out of every last dollar that is donated for trivial reasons such as transfers, data and transactions. Nations, and governments on their behalf, rush to offer aid in moments of genuine sympathy, yet only part of the aid may reach the needy or not at all. Is there any regulatory body that can account for this aid and where it has been sent, including non-financial aid such as old clothes for example? Could detailed information be published with regards to the manner in which such aid is spent and in a way that could always be traced to the beneficiaries?

Our duty towards the needy that deserve aid is to ensure that there is full supervision of the aid that is donated and taking a public stance against any violations conducted by the donating institutions. This also applies to internal aid; transparency does not contradict generosity. It is the right of every citizen who gives aid and it is the right of those in need of aid to know why they have not received what has been promised to them.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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