On the first anniversary of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah being honored with the United Nations Humanitarian Leadership Award, glowing tributes have been paid to his continued leadership of international efforts aimed at providing humanitarian relief around the world.
Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and Dr. Mubashar Riaz Sheikh, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme Resident Representative in Kuwait, jointly wrote an op-ed on the occasion which appeared in local and international newspapers. In their op-ed the two eminent men noted that on the occasion of presenting the UN's highest humanitarian award, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had lauded His Highness the Amir for his “remarkable acts of human kindness and generosity”, and for the "exemplary humanitarian leadership" demonstrated by the State of Kuwait.
In their op-ed, the two eminent authors said that the personal dedication and visionary leadership demonstrated by His Highness the Amir in spearheading fundraising for vital UN operations and supporting humanitarian relief efforts to alleviate human suffering in crises, not just in Syria but worldwide have been nothing short of inspirational.
By presenting the Humanitarian Leadership Award to His Highness the Amir, the UN recognized and expressed its profound gratitude for the personal leadership demonstrated by His Highness the Amir amid international efforts to respond to the Syrian crisis.
The authors noted that in the first place, His Highness had directed his government to organize three international donor pledging conferences for Syria, in 2013, 2014 and 2015. And secondly, His Highness had, both by example and direct intervention, worked to galvanize the global community to contribute funds for the victims of this devastating conflict, which has entered its fifth year without any sign of political resolution in sight.
Since 2013, Kuwait under the patronage of His Highness the Amir has hosted three international donor-pledging conferences for Syria, raising around US$7.5 billion. Of this, Kuwait has led the donations, with a total of $1.3 billion over the three years ($300 million in 2013, $500 million in 2014, and $500 million in 2015).
These conferences, which were attended each year by high level government delegations from across the world, again shone a spotlight on Kuwait's tradition of humanitarian assistance and compassion for those in need and raised awareness of the desperate challenges facing the Syrian people.
The statistics of the Syrian conflict are staggering — at least 250,000 people have been killed, more than one million have been injured and nearly half the country's population have been displaced. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, more than nine million people, including women and children, have been internally displaced and over four million have sought refuge in neighboring countries.
UN experts estimate that as a direct consequence of the Syrian conflict national development in the country has been set back by four decades, with more than half the population now living in extreme poverty. Meanwhile, neighboring countries hosting Syrian refugees, such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey are coming under increasing strain, with essential social services such as health, water and education being pushed to the limit. The generous assistance provided by Kuwait has been directed at alleviating the impact of this crisis.
However, the compassion demonstrated by His Highness has not been confined to those suffering in the Syrian conflict. The State of Kuwait has made generous donations, whether through the United Nations, bilaterally or through non-Government organizations, to a very wide range of humanitarian emergencies internationally.
These include the recent announcement of $200 million for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, to be administered by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development; $200 million for vital projects in Iraq and a further $100 million for relief in Yemen, to be disbursed through Kuwaiti non-Government organizations.
In line with His Highness the Amir's directions that Kuwait's support should be directed towards those in greatest need, regardless of nationality and religion, the State of Kuwait has also contributed towards humanitarian relief efforts in Chad, the Philippines, Somalia, the Sudan and elsewhere.
After Japan was struck by the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011, Kuwait donated five million barrels of oil (then equivalent to around $500 million) to aid recovery efforts. Similarly, at the height of the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014, Kuwait contributed $5 million to fight the virus and treat patients.
Working under the leadership of His Highness the Amir and in partnership with his government, the International Islamic Charitable Organization, headed by Dr. Abdullah Al-Matouq, and the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, chaired by Dr. Hilal Al-Sayer, are also making major contributions to facilitating the distribution of Kuwait's humanitarian assistance worldwide.