Riyadh / Dubai, April 11, 2006 – Highlights of UNICEF's Arabic Humanitarian Action Report 2006 were brought to the world's attention through the launch of the publication today in Riyadh as the UN Children's Fund praised significant contributions by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to several emergency situations and relief operations in the region and worldwide.
The event was hosted by the Saudi Relief Committee, which manages and allocates funds contributed by the public in the Kingdom towards humanitarian activities and emergency responses throughout the world.
Speaking at the Riyadh Intercontinental hotel, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Rima Salah today shared details of the annual funding appeal totaling over $805 million for crisis countries and made public recognition of the Saudi Arabian vision of cooperation in the field of disaster management, technical assistance and humanitarian assistance. The high level event was attended by diplomats, Ministers and senior Government officials.
Salah thanked Saudi Minister of Interior and Chair of the Saudi Committee, HRH Prince Naif bin Abdelaziz for a cooperation agreement signed in 2005 between UNICEF and the Saudi Committee for the Relief of Palestinian People, whereby US $3,6m was committed towards crucial health and quality education projects.
Since its foundation in the year 2000, the Committee has provided cash and in-kind assistance in addition to funding educational and medical activities as well as reconstruction schemes in the occupied territory.
At today’s event, UNICEF Special Representative Dan Rohrman briefed the audience on the implementation of children-related projects funded by the Saudi Committee in the occupied Palestinian territory.
A further $2 million was also committed by the Saudi Committee this year towards UNICEF-supported reconstruction efforts in the earthquake-affected areas of Pakistan earthquake.
Saudi funding has also helped alleviate the plight of children in tsunami-ravaged countries in Southeast Asia, and played a part in the recent achievements towards polio eradication in Egypt and the support to the humanitarian situation in Sudan.
UNICEF's Humanitarian Action Report 2006 identifies the need for sustainable partnerships and multilateral collaboration in the area of emergency response. In spite of available model initiatives to assist children in countries faced with conflict, violence, HIV/AIDS and socioeconomic chaos, critical funding gaps remain an overwhelming concern. "Underfunding in crisis countries means that key projects and activities have long remained unimplemented, with the dramatic consequences of children not being vaccinated, not having access to potable water, no schools, access to health posts or feeding centres" Salah declared.
Seeking to set minimum preparedness criteria for future emergencies, Rima Salah also mentioned the need to boost action and partnerships against a possible pandemic scenario triggered by avian influenza. Stating that roughly half the reported cases are children, Salah brought up the UNICEF appeal for US $9m in support of communication and awareness programmes. "Our time to act is now", she concluded.
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Rima Salah during her stay in Riyadh will be meeting with high-level government officials, UNICEF partners, as well as visiting a girls’ school.