x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

US aid agency seeks to work with UAE

USAID, the American government organisation responsible for foreign aid, has offered to provide training and assistance for the UAE.

ABU DHABI // USAID, the American government organisation responsible for foreign aid, has offered to provide training and assistance for the UAE as it sets up its rapid response unit for humanitarian disasters. A team of representatives from USAID and the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance met officials from the UAE's recently established Foreign Aid Co-ordination Office (FACO) yesterday for discussions on how to deepen co-operation.

"We came into the UAE to meet with FACO to discuss how we can work together in the future to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian assistance around the world," said Jon Brause, deputy assistant administrator at USAID. "In particular, as FACO develops some of its new capacities to respond, we've offered to provide some technical assistance to them in areas that they find important."

The FACO is finalising plans for field support teams that will be deployed as soon as a crisis occurs to assess the immediate needs of the area. The US Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) provides a similar function, with small teams deployed immediately after a disaster to assess what funds and assistance are necessary, and co-ordinate between humanitarian groups. The officials invited the FACO to send its staff for training at the centres it uses for DART recruits.

"If they do develop this deployment capability, they are going to have the ability to assess needs immediately after a crisis occurs, and that's going to help us," Mr Brause said. "There are very few countries that can put teams on the ground, and if we had the UAE - that would be a tremendous addition." The US organisation also hopes that the UAE, with a long history of aid work, will be able to provide advice and assistance in its activities in the Islamic world.

"We believe that the UAE can help us work in Muslim countries in particular, and give us guidance on how we can be more effective in our responses in the Horn of Africa and other countries where the situation is very complex and new insights can only be helpful," Mr Brause said. At the meeting, also attended by representatives of the Red Crescent Authority, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and other charitable bodies, officials discussed current challenges, and those that are likely to become more prominent in the future, such as food security and how to respond more effectively to these issues.

The FACO, established by Cabinet decree in August last year, declined to comment yesterday, saying it planned to release a statement on the tie-up today. @Email:lmorris@thenational.ae