x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

UAE in Top 10 donors of humanitarian aid

The UAE has become the first non-western nation in the global Top 10 humanitarian aid donors per head of population.

Children wait with their mothers to receive medical care at a UAE medical clinic in Thatta, Pakistan. The UAE has become the first non-western nation in the global Top 10 humanitarian aid donors per head of population.
Children wait with their mothers to receive medical care at a UAE medical clinic in Thatta, Pakistan. The UAE has become the first non-western nation in the global Top 10 humanitarian aid donors per head of population.

ABU DHABI // The UAE has become the first non-western nation in the global Top 10 humanitarian aid donors per head of population.

Donations of US$138.9 million in 2009, an average of $30.30 (Dh111.28) per person, put the country in seventh place. Luxembourg topped the list at $126.30 per person.

The figures are published in a new report by Global Humanitarian Assistance, a group that monitors the distribution of charitable aid from governments.

In total in 2009, the UAE's bilateral humanitarian aid made it the 15th-largest government donor reporting to the Development Assistance Committee, which is part of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international economic group founded in 1961 to stimulate world trade.

Overall foreign aid from the UAE peaked in 2009, at $859 million. This figure combines humanitarian aid, debt relief and funds to support reconstruction efforts. It represents an almost ten-fold increase from 2008, when foreign aid was at $88m. In 2007, it was $452m.“Interestingly, aid significantly dropped in 2008 … which could be correlated to the global economic crisis and the plummeting of oil prices,” another report from the group said.

Humanitarian assistance makes up the bulk of the country’s donations.

The allocation of humanitarian aid by the UAE showed that the country has regional priorities, the December 17 report noted.

The top five recipients were headed by Pakistan, which received 67 per cent of the $138.9m total. Pakistan will probably top the list again in 2010 after the devastating floods in late July that affected more than 20 million people.

The UAE was one of the first countries to respond, stocking its Chinook helicopters with more than 100 tonnes of supplies and sending relief into some of the worst-hit parts of the country that were rendered inaccessible by road. For months afterwards, UAE charities and the Government pledged their support for the flood victims.

The 2009 recipients of aid, after Pakistan, were the Palestinian Territories, which received 20 per cent, followed by Yemen at four per cent.

Other countries that received significant portions of humanitarian aid include Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Morocco, Somalia and Mauritania.

In 2008, the UAE established the Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid (OCFA), an independent body to support the delivery and implementation of development and humanitarian aid. It has also collected and analysed data about aid flow since the country was founded in 1971.

The first report detailing 2009 donations was announced in June.

The future collection of data will help to track the UAE’s funding for international development and humanitarian programmes, the report said.

The OCFA was established by Cabinet decree in 2008 with a mission to “coordinate and support UAE-based donor organisations, by providing information, expert advice and training, and documenting aid flows, to ensure that the UAE’s humanitarian and development assistance is as effective as possible”.

In 2009, according to the report, the UAE “has for the first time reported separately to the database whereas previously it reported collectively as ‘Arab donors’ along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait”.

“The UAE has made significant efforts to make its aid more visible,” the report said.

“We welcome the UAE’s increased reporting of its aid information and hope in the future it will take further steps to make its aid data more transparent, timely and detailed.”

sbhattacharya@thenational.ae