Time: 17 June, 2020
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (17 June 2020) Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Advisor to the Royal Court and Supervisor General King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), participated yesterday in the Helsinki Policy Forum, a virtual event hosted by HE Pekka Haavisto, Foreign Minister of Finland. The forum remotely convened a gathering of a number of officials from across the Gulf-MENA region and Europe to discuss global policymaking requirements to address the COVID-19 pandemic and other urgent issues.
In his remarks to the forum on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Al Rabeeah stated that, “Saudi Arabia, as a host of the G20 and a major player in the MENA region, has led many initiatives regionally and globally, including some to minimize the consequences of COVID-19”.
“We meet today,” the Supervisor General continued, “as the world faces a major challenge represented by the new Corona (COVID-19) pandemic which has affected almost 8 million people globally, with close to 450,000 deaths. This pandemic has changed a modern world with significant economic, social, political, health, and other challenges; some of these may have a considerable impact upon our lives.
“Based upon these challenges, and also upon the strong historical relationship between the MENA region and Europe, there is an urgent call for more effective planning of well-designed cooperation and collaboration with the aim of sharing data, common objectives and initiatives to solve conflicts in the MENA region; there is also a need to look for shared economic opportunities and stability which will lead to regional prosperity.
“Saudi Arabia has led many initiatives, including some to minimize the consequences of COVID-19, in order to reach long-lasting regional stability; the goals of these initiatives include conflict de-escalation and demanding the end of interference in the internal affairs of other countries – measures which will lead to a stable MENA region sustained by prosperous nations and an interactive economy.
“As clear evidence of Saudi Arabia’s noble initiatives, and as a host of G20, it has announced a donation of 500 million US Dollars as follows: USD 200 million to support WHO in controlling the pandemic globally; USD 150 million to support GAVI in obtaining a vaccine to help countries in need; and USD 150 million to support CEPI towards vaccine development. In addition, Saudi Arabia has supported the WHO Fund to support countries with fragile health systems with an amount of 10 million US dollars”.
“Regionally, Saudi Arabia, through its humanitarian arm, KSrelief, has provided support to the following countries to control COVID-19: Yemen – USD 25 million; Palestine – USD 4 million; and Somalia – USD 3 million. Also, Saudi Arabia is preparing to help several other countries and regions in need, particularly in Africa.
“On 2 June 2020, Saudi Arabia co-hosted the Yemen HRP 2020 Pledging Conference virtually for the first time, and pledged USD 500 million, affirming its position as the top donor country to Yemen for the last few years.
“For Yemen’s stability and peace, Saudi Arabia has and will support all dialogue that will bring political stability and peace in accordance with UN initiatives and the three accepted initiatives, namely, the Yemen National Dialogue outcome, the GCC initiative and UN Resolution 2216; to support that position, Saudi Arabia has called for supporting the UN Envoy’s initiative, the Stockholm Agreement, a cease-fire by all parties for the whole month of Ramadan, and meaningful political negotiations that will minimize aggravations to the humanitarian crisis caused by COVID-19.”
Dr. Al Rabeeah also stressed that, “Although the UN and the international community supported the Saudi Arabia initiatives, some parties did not respond or act in response to that noble call.”
The Supervisor General called for the following recommendations: 1) The Helsinki Forum supports the initiatives taken by Saudi Arabia and the UN to reach a cease-fire that will lead to a political solution in accordance with the three initiatives, the UN Envoy’s initiative, and the Stockholm Agreement. 2) Acknowledgment of Saudi Arabia’s support towards global control of COVID-19. 3) A need for further discussions between the Europe and MENA regions towards adaptations and modifications needed because of COVID-19 to revive the economy, promote health and sustainable development, and create stability.
Dr. Al Rabeeah concluded his comments by saying that “last night, while I was preparing my remarks, another drone attack aimed at Saudi Arabia was intercepted.” This marks a total of 149 drone attacks and 313 ballistic missile attacks by Houthi militias into Saudi Arabia. These high-technology weapons were declared to be produced in Yemen. “However,” he added, “I am left with a puzzle: how can a country with the worst humanitarian crisis in the world afford such capabilities?”
The forum included discussions on the implications of the effects of COVID-19 and its impact on health, economic and political systems. Participants discussed how to face the many challenges resulting from the pandemic, and the steps that will be taken if a second wave of the virus occurs in the future. Other topics included a discussion of ways to enhance cooperation between the countries of the European Union, the Middle East and North Africa to combat the pandemic, leading to the enhancement of sustainability in all global sectors.