NEW YORK // The Government said it is to contribute US$568,000 (Dh2 million) to UN projects and called on donor countries to increase assistance to disaster-stricken and war-ravaged developing countries. The sum included US$324,000 for the UN Development Programme, which works to fight poverty, mitigate environmental degradation and promote democracy in 166 countries.
"Over the last decade, the world has seen an increase in humanitarian crises, violence and armed conflicts as well as environmental and natural disasters," Mohammed al Kaabi, a UAE envoy, said on Monday at a pledging conference at UN headquarters. He noted that many countries in the developing world were suffering from more desertification, poverty and disease. "This means that the international community and, in particular, international donor states, must increase their humanitarian aid and development assistance."
Even as Mr Kaabi spoke, aid workers were rescuing survivors from the rubble of a collapsed school in Haiti, helping storm victims in Honduras and feeding thousands of survivors of an earthquake that struck Pakistan's Baluchistan province last month. Mr Kaabi said the UAE contribution would also include: US$100,000 for Unicef, the UN children's fund; US$50,000 for Unifem, a development fund for women; and US$50,000 for the Central Emergency Response Fund, which was set up to provide aid after natural disasters.
"The UAE has always provided much humanitarian aid and development aid to developing countries in order to meet the humanitarian needs in many regions throughout the world," Mr Kaabi said. "We reiterate the responsibility borne by developed countries and international financial institutions with regard to increasing humanitarian aid." The amount of assistance provided by the Emirates has been controversial since April, when a Government minister said the UAE gives 3.6 per cent of its gross national product in overseas assistance.
John Holmes, the UN's aid chief, accused the UAE of presenting an exaggerated and "highly dubious" aid total. The Government has stood by the 3.6 per cent figure but has not said how it was calculated. Confusion arose again last month when another Government envoy offered an "unlimited financial contribution" to ease the suffering of Palestinians dependent on aid from the UN Relief and Works Agency.
Andrew Whitley, the agency's New York chief, said, "I don't believe we have a blank cheque of unlimited fund contributions from the UAE." He called on the Government to clarify its pledge. firstname.lastname@example.org