x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE gives away $2 billion to triple its foreign aid

'In times of humanitarian crisis the citizens of our nation responded with their hearts' says aid coordination chief Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed

Khalifa Humanitarian Foundation hands out 1,500 food parcels to needy families in Yemen. Supplied / WAM
Khalifa Humanitarian Foundation hands out 1,500 food parcels to needy families in Yemen. Supplied / WAM

DUBAI// Aid from the UAE to countries in need nearly tripled last year to Dh7.74 billion, or more than US$2bn.

Most of the foreign aid from the UAE's 34 donor organisations went to programmes designed to meet the eight Millennium Development Goals set out by the United Nations, which include ending poverty, universal education, child and maternal health and environmental sustainability.

About Dh218m was given to support education projects in 56 countries and Dh337.6m was donated to health projects in 35 countries. Aid amounting to Dh124.3m went towards environment projects in 62 countries.

"In times of humanitarian crisis, the citizens of our nation responded with their hearts," said Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi and president of OCFA, the Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid.

The UAE Government donated the most, nearly Dh6bn, and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development contributed Dh782m in international aid, according to OFCA's annual report, published yesterday. The 2011 total ws a 176 per cent increase on 2010.

"Our donor organisations have done much in other countries to help the most neglected members of society by providing shelter, food and education to orphaned and deprived children," said Sheikh Hamdan.

Most of the aid, 77.4 per cent, went to countries in the Middle East and in South and Central Asia.

UAE donors gave Dh5.17bn to 12 countries in the Middle East region. The Palestinian Territories received the most: Dh124.9m for development, humanitarian aid and charitable assistance.

Projects there were undertaken with partners including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the World Food Programme. The UAE Red Crescent Authority provided Dh66.4m in aid to Palestine, making it the largest single donor.

The money was used to build houses and distribute food in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, and in Lebanese and Syrian refugee camps.

The UAE was one of the first countries to provide assistance to people in Libya after uprisings began in February last year. On February 25, the President, Sheikh Khalifa, directed UAE organisations to start the UAE Relief Team to provide Dh247.7m in aid.

Most of the funds went towards coordination, transport and support services. Donors also contributed to food aid, protection and transfer of refugees, shelter and non-food items, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment for field hospitals and supply of clean water and sanitation facilities.

Other conflict-torn nations to receive UAE aid included Afghanistan, for which the Government also established a committee, chaired by the UAE ambassador to Afghanistan, to ensure the coordinated disbursement of Dh149.8m in aid.

Five countries in North Africa received Dh491.2m in aid.

There was also an increase in aid to high-income countries, largely due to a grant of Dh3.67bn to Oman in budget support.

Last year, Oman moved from "upper income" to "high income" in the World Bank rankings and was no longer eligible for Official Development Assistance. "This change explains the sharp increase in the percentage of the UAE's aid going to high-income countries, when compared with previous years," the report said.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked the UAE the 26th most generous donor in 2010, down from its 14th place in 2009.

The ranking is based on Official Development Assistance (ODA) as a proportion of Gross National Income (GNI). Just over Dh3bn of the UAE's total disbursements last year were recorded as ODA which when measured against GNI is 0.22 per cent.