Saudi Arabia pledges $20m for Rohingya refugees

:: Saudi Arabia pledged $20 million in aid to Rohingya refugees at Monday’s Rohingya Refugee Crisis Pledging Conference in Geneva.

The conference was co-hosted by the EU and Kuwait, and organized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

It reportedly aimed to raise $434 million to provide life-saving assistance to more than 1 million displaced people who have fled violence in Myanmar in the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

Dr. Yahya Alshammari, director of Public Partnerships and International Relations at the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief), said the Kingdom’s donation would help “alleviate the pain and suffering of the Rohingya minority, especially the most vulnerable groups like women and children.”

He called on the UN and all peace-loving countries around the world to pressure the government of Myanmar to respect its commitment to human rights, end the forced displacement of the Rohingya, and allow refugees a safe and dignified return to their homes.

Alshammari said that Saudi Arabia was among the first countries to intervene in the current crisis by sending a team from KSRelief to support refugees in Bangladesh and by collaborating with IOM to provide urgently needed aid.

But, he added, the Kingdom has a long history of supporting the Rohingya, donating $66 million over the past 10 years, and welcoming more than 300,000 Rohingya in the last 40 years, which he claimed made Saudi second only to Bangladesh in the number of Rohingya refugees taken in.

“Since its unification by King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia has always been keen on supporting needy communities and countries and providing them with aid,” Alshammari said.

“The Kingdom has become a leading global supporter of humanitarian and development work, and the Rohingya crisis has received the attention and generous support of Saudi Arabia throughout history.

“Rohingyas in Saudi Arabia receive free education and free health care and none of them lives in refugee camps,” he added.

He also commended Bangladesh for receiving around 600,000 refugees from Rakhine State in the last two months.

Education aid

In Riyadh, the King Abdullah International Foundation for Charity and Humanitarian Works announced the launch of an $11.5 million initiative — in partnership with UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank Group — that will help educate more than 76,000 Rohingya children in refugee camps over the next five years, at least.

Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, executive chairman of the foundation, stressed that education is a fundamental right of all children.

“Investment in minds, through education and training, is a long-term investment that will empower communities to find effective solutions to reduce poverty and help build a better future for everyone in a world of understanding and tolerance,” he said.

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