Time: 17 November 2020
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed virtually today an agreement with the United States of America, represented by USAID, to provide funding to the World Food Programme (WFP) to improve community resilience in disasters and rehabilitate multi-purpose cyclone shelters for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The total cost of the project will be USD 2 million.
The agreement was signed by the Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, and the Acting Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr. John Barsa. The ceremony was also attended virtually by HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, and United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John Abizaid.
The project will provide urgent assistance to some 87,165 beneficiaries, including refugee camp residents and other needy and vulnerable population groups who are affected by natural disasters and conflicts in the regions of Ukhia, Teknaf, Pekua, Kutubdia and Maheshkhali in Bangladesh.
Following the signing, Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah stated that he was “really honored today to sign this is very important agreement between KSrelief and USAID. On behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and KSrelief, I appreciate this important event and am hoping to see more such agreements.”
He noted that the Kingdom had stood with the Rohingya people, both as IDPs in Myanmar and as refugees in other countries, for decades. In Saudi Arabia, the Rohingya who live there have been provided with all necessary services, care and facilities.
Dr. Al Rabeeah added that, due to the threat of extermination and torture faced by the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been committed to helping the Rohingya in their country. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bun Abdulaziz Al Saud, directed KSrelief to stand with the Rohingya and provide them with urgent assistance. For its part, KSrelief has sent specialized teams to Bangladesh to assess the living conditions of the refugees, determine their most urgent needs, and provide emergency relief, humanitarian and shelter assistance. KSrelief has implemented many programs and projects for the refugees living in Cox’s Bazar and other locations.
The Supervisor General added that this agreement was part of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya people by providing everything possible to improve their living conditions. He extended his sincere thanks and appreciation to Saudi Arabia’s leadership for the comprehensive aid the Kingdom is providing to crisis-affected people in countries around the world.
John Barsa from USAID had this to say on the occasion: “I would like to start by thanking both KSrelief and WFP for your partnership in Bangladesh and around the world. More than three years since the mass displacement of Rohingya in Myanmar, we are here today to reiterate our shared commitment to support Rohingya refugees and the Bangladeshi community that generously hosts them.”
“On behalf of USAID,” he added, “I’m very proud today to announce our additional support alongside KSrelief for WFP’s project on cyclone shelter rehabilitation and strengthening disaster readiness. With over 860,000 refugees in one the world’s largest refugee camps, Cox’s Bazar is facing several compounding shocks, from extreme weather to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“I couldn’t be more thrilled that KSrelief is joining us…I also would like to acknowledge our important partnership with KSrelief as it continues to broaden its humanitarian efforts around the world.”
“In just five years, KSrelief has expanded into an organization with more than 300 staff and a sophisticated volunteer program. KSrelief has responded to some of the most complex humanitarian crisis and disasters in more than 50 countries, and has provided more than USD 4 billion in humanitarian aid across every sector.”
Mr. Barsa concluded by expressing his hopes that this agreement would alleviate the suffering of both the Rohingya refugees and members of the host community, and urged all other international organizations to provide support for this cause.
HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud stated, “KSrelief has played an instrumental role in the region and beyond, and stands as one of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s most visible and effective humanitarian relief organizations. It has worked in more than 50 countries, participated in more than 1,300 international projects, and provided more than USD 4.6 billion in humanitarian relief assistance.”
“Today, KSrelief is pleased to join with the USAID to jointly assist WFP’s efforts in Cox’s Bazar. This joint effort is a testament to what our enduring partnership with the United States can achieve. Our combined efforts to achieve peace, security and prosperity in the region and around the world also extend to helping those in need, as we are discussing here today. This project will improve the health, safety and living conditions of Rohingya refugees dislocated in Bangladesh, through an effort to rehabilitate local housing and shelters, enabling these accommodations to provide necessary protection during disasters.”
“KSrelief and the Kingdom welcome this opportunity to coordinate our relief efforts with the United States and the WFP by providing this USD 1 million humanitarian assistance award. Over the past two decades, Saudi Arabia has provided more than USD 15 billion in humanitarian relief assistance for global refugees, and just last month, participated in the UN Donors Conference for the Rohingya cause. The Kingdom currently hosts more than 270,000 Rohingya refugees, providing them with free health care, educational services and employment opportunities.”
HRH Princess Reema added, “Today’s joint project is another important effort in providing for the basic needs of one of the world’s most impoverished refugee groups. Everyone should have safe and secure shelter, and through this project, many families in Bangladesh will soon be able to remove that basic need from their list of daily challenges. We look forward to the continuing cooperation between KSrelief and USAID, as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States work together to address humanitarian needs around the globe.”
Ambassador John Abizaid said that the United States was “proud to join hands with Saudi Arabia in providing humanitarian assistance. Our partnership on the project is a manifestation of the broad and enduring American partnership with Saudi Arabia. That relationship, which began 75 years ago in a shipboard meeting between King Abdulaziz and President Roosevelt, works to provide not only life-sustaining assistance, but to support peace and stability in the region and beyond.”
He also noted that “the United States and Saudi Arabia signed a joint statement of support to each provide USD 1 million to assist Rohingya refugees. This first-of-its-kind agreement is administered by the USAID and KSrelief. Through our implementing partner, the WFP, together we will rehabilitate shelters and provide disaster management training to vulnerable people in a region sadly prone to deadly, extreme weather.”
“Today’s agreement,” Ambassador Abizaid continued, “is not the first time we have worked side-by-side to deliver critical assistance to the people who need it most. In Yemen, the United States and Saudi Arabia are working to provide life-saving aid to a society ravaged by conflict. In Syria, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been working to address the needs of internally displaced and other vulnerable people, today numbering over 12 million Syrians. Through USAID, the United States provides emergency food, health, water, and sanitation assistance, while KSrelief is at the forefront of the education sector, helping meet the needs of Syria’s ‘lost generation’ of youth with supplies and services to over 100,000 needy schoolchildren.”