Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The custodian of the two holy mosques, King Abdullah Bin-Abdulaziz, received in his office in the Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Sunday UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes. The UN under-secretary general briefed King Abdullah on the United Nations’ relief efforts.
In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat shortly before he leaving Riyadh, Holmes said the United Nations agreed in principle with Saudi Arabia to set up mechanisms to coordinate humanitarian issues between the United Nations and Saudi Arabia, which is regarded as one of the most important donors. He added: We want all parties concerned to provide aid by coordinating the assessment of damage in certain regions and extending aid fast after determining what is required. He noted that the current coordination was flawed.
Holmes emphasized that Saudi Arabia is committed to providing aid with or through the United Nations. He said he noticed during his visit that Saudi Arabia is committed to making efforts in this respect. Holmes said he discussed with the custodian of the two holy mosques various humanitarian crises and disasters that continue to hit various parts of the world. He added that he admires the custodian of the two holy Mosques’ commitment to, and interest in, the various humanitarian issues from which many world countries and regions suffer.
He said he also discussed with the custodian of the two holy mosques, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, head of the Red Crescent Society Prince Faisal Bin-Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, and the Saudi finance minister the possibility of stepping up coordination and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which he chairs. The aim, he added, is to provide aid for the needy people in a coordinated, organized, and productive way. Holmes noted that it is not unfamiliar for Saudi Arabia, represented by its government, people, and King Abdullah in particular, to help and extend aid to disaster-stricken countries.
The UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs said: We reached agreement on the need to work together in a more coordinated way and to follow up on the agreements and arrangements that we reached today in order to ensure that aid will reach those who deserve and need it as soon as possible and in a more successful way. He added: Also, agreement was reached on the need to set up bodies to consolidate coordination between the United Nations and Saudi Arabia to provide humanitarian aid more effectively. He noted that he will follow up on the agreements that were reached today, through practical steps, with the aim of delivering aid to the needy in a faster way. Holmes said: We seek to increase our aid to the Palestinians, Somalia, Darfur, Iraq, and Islamic regions.
We seek to increase our aid to these countries in particular, without exception, in addition to other regions. This is a moral duty on us as United Nations, all religions, and the international community. He said he focused on developing cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United Nations and added that he seeks to strengthen relations with the rest of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council through Saudi Arabia because Saudi Arabia plays an important role in this region. He added: “Therefore, we began the tour of the region from the Saudi capital, Riyadh.”Holmes said the groundwork has been prepared for cooperation between the United Nations, represented by its emergency relief body, and its Saudi counterpart, the Red Crescent Society. He added that future meetings between the two sides will result in practical steps in the coming months.
He pointed out that the United Nations intends to exchange information with the Saudi Red Crescent Society when a crisis or disaster develops, so that the two sides may determine the needs of the affected parties and the available resources to meet these needs. The UN official referred to the United Nations’ experience in determining the needs and priorities. He said: “We will work with the Saudi Red Crescent Society to set up mechanisms of coordination in advance before any disaster or crisis develops, so that we maybe ready for quick responses.”