$500 Million Saudi Aid for Iraq Refugees

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JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq on Tuesday to be disbursed through the United Nations to those in need regardless of sect or ethnicity, said a source at the Foreign Ministry.

King Abdullah “has ordered $500 million in humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq, including the displaced affected by painful events regardless of their religion, sect or ethnicity,” the official said.

The UN says hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced by the recent three-week-old militant offensive that has swept up a swathe of territory north of Baghdad.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has been informed of the Saudi aid, which will be “provided through UN agencies to the Iraqi people only,” a statement said, adding that the Kingdom would follow up on the distribution of aid to ensure it reaches deserving individuals.

Ban, meanwhile, thanked Saudi Arabia for its aid to Iraq. “The secretary-general expresses deep gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generosity in contributing $500 million to the UN for life-saving humanitarian assistance to people in Iraq,” said a statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson.

“The secretary-general welcomes the timely funding, which will enable the United Nations and its partners to support the millions of Iraqi men, women and children whose lives have been torn apart by the conflict,” it said.

So far this year, an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have been displaced by fighting, including from Anbar and Ninewa governorates, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

The International Organization for Migration has called for the creation of humanitarian corridors, warning that tens of thousands of Iraqis displaced by violence are beyond the reach of aid agencies. — ARAB NEWS

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