x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

UAE rebuilds lives with Dh7.7bn of aid

The way forward: Most of the aid handed out will go to programmes designed to meet the eight UN Millennium Development Goals.

DUBAI // With the UAE increasingly taking a lead in humanitarian efforts, it is no surprise that the country, and Abu Dhabi in particular, is one of the world's biggest donors.

The Government has been quick to help other nations in times of crisis, providing assistance through its charity organisations.

A report released in September by the Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid revealed that the UAE gave Dh7.74 billion of aid last year.

Most went to programmes designed to meet the eight UN Millennium Development Goals, which include ending poverty and promoting universal education.

About Dh218 million was given to support education projects in 56 countries, Dh337.6m went to health projects in 35 countries and environmental projects in 62 countries received Dh124.3m.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, donated US$50m (Dh184m) to the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organisation for polio vaccines in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The UAE also partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make contributions to the polio campaign.

"The Crown Prince made a significant commitment to partner with us on polio," said Mr Gates during a visit to the capital in October.

Pakistan, one of the largest beneficiaries of the UAE's polio campaigns and other humanitarian assistance, said its relationship with the Emirates was built on shared values and cultural ties. "The UAE is not just a friend to Pakistan. I would say it is more like a brotherly relationship," said Ahsan Raza, the head of mission at the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi. "

The UAE's support was vital in rebuilding infrastructure after the 2005 earthquake and floods in 2010 and last year, he added.

"The UAE has helped to rebuild schools, homes, hospitals, roads and bridges in affected areas and that has been very important in helping people in Pakistan affected by these natural disasters."

The UAE has already pledged millions in aid next year. Last month, the Government announced more than $2m for UN development activities next year.

"The UAE is one of the major contributors from the Gulf, second only to Saudi Arabia," said Brigitte Khair Mountain, the head of office at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees external relations hub for the GCC.

The agency received $200,000 this year from the Government.