Millions of Yemenis benefited from the Saudi aid from April 2015 to Aug 2017
KSRelief is the main organization to rehabilitate child soldiers
International organizations urged to do more to support rebuilding efforts
RIYADH, October 9, 2017 – Saudi Arabia has given more than $8 billion in aid to Yemen from April 2015 until August 2017, representatives of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) said at a press conference on Monday.
Millions of Yemenis have benefited from the $8.27 billion in assistance the Kingdom has provided to its neighbouring country over the period. They also said that, in total, Saudi Arabia has given $65.9 billion in aid to a host of nations over two decades.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have together received an almost equal share of the $66.7 million from the Kingdom to combat cholera this summer, according to KSRelief. The funds were donated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Dr. Samer Al Jutaily, official spokesperson for KSRelief, said the Centre has been running preventative and awareness programmes in Yemen to control the spread of diseases in the future.
Talking about cholera in particular, he said that Cholera has been endemic in Yemen for many years.
However the great efforts to control the recent epidemic has succeeded to improve the cure rate for the disease in Yemen to 99 per cent, Al Jutaily pointed out.
Saudi Arabia’s total humanitarian support – which is 0.019 per cent of its GDP – has surpassed the UN target of 0.007 per cent of GDP for each donor nation during 2014, KSRelief said.
The Kingdom has implemented numerous health, education, rehabilitation and infrastructure projects across Yemen.
KSRelief has been operating two hospitals in Saada and Al Hajjah governorates, where everyone is entitled to free medical treatment. “The Centre focuses on the most vulnerable segment of society, particularly women and children,” Dr Al Jutaily noted.
However, a major impediment to relief and rehabilitation efforts in Yemen is the Houthi rebels. “Over the past three years, we have encountered 68 incidents where our aid convoys and ships have been attacked,” said Abdullah M Al Rwailly, Director of Community Support department at KSRelief. “We have lost five aid workers in those attacks, while many have been kidnapped.”
Despite these challenges, the rebels have not been able to thwart the Centre’s attempts to assist Yemenis, Al Rwailly insisted. The Centre has funded more than 80 projects to help children in Yemen. He said that KSRelief has also been running four centres in Yemen to rehabilitate children who have been recruited as soldiers by Houthis.
“These centres provide physical, psychological, educational and financial support to these children to enable them to integrate to the society.” It’s a big challenge considering that there are nearly 20,000 child soldiers in need of rehabilitation, he said. “Nevertheless, we are determined to achieve this objective. The reason is simple – these children are taught to be killers. If they are ignored, the country can never stand on its feet. We can’t afford a country in our backyard to become another Afghanistan.”
It is precisely the reason that Saudi Arabia has also spent in a sustained way to rehabilitate child soldiers in Sierra Leone and Somalia. “If they are left behind, they will become like the Taliban. Our goal is to protect the future of Yemen,” he said.
“Even though we are looking at Yemen as one country, our priority areas are those that are most in need of our support owing to Houthi rampages.”
However, it is not just Yemenis in Yemen, but also Yemeni refugees in Saudi Arabia who have benefited from Saudi Arabia’s generous assistance, according to KSRelief.
It is also the only organization that has been working on the rehabilitation of child soldiers in the country, Al Rwailly said. The centre called on the international community and NGOs to do more to support the Kingdom’s humanitarian and rebuilding efforts in the country, as well as support the legitimate government of President Abdrabu Mansour Hadi in Yemen.
KSRelief has received positive feedback on its humanitarian effort in Yemen from the UN and other global organizations, according to Dr. Al Jutaily.