RIYADH, 3 January 2005 â€” The Kingdom will dispatch relief supplies to four countries affected by tsunamis that killed more than 150,000 people and rendered millions homeless.
â€œThe countries chosen for aid by the Kingdom include Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Maldives,â€ a spokesman at the Ministry of Finance told Arab News, adding that two planeloads of relief materials have already been sent to Colombo in the past two days.
This is a straight news report about what Saudi Arabia is doing to provide disaster assistance.
01/04 UPDATE: I’ve checked with the Saudi Embassy in Washington to get answers to the questions asked in comments. According to Nail Al-Jubair, head of the Information Office, the $10 million is a provisional figure, with the Saudi government continuing to assess needs with the UN relief agencies and local authorities. Saudi aid is currently going to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, the Maldives, and Somalia. I note that these are countries from which significant numbers of immigrant laborers come.
The New York Times runs an article by Neil MacFarquhar that notes complaints coming out of Kuwait about their level of assistance. I again suspect that this is based on first-instance information. What is interesting, though, is how anti-terrorism funding efforts are complicating the ability of citizens of the Gulf States to donate to charitable organizations: concern about the legitimacy of some charitable bodies has lead to reduced giving across the board.
01/05/2005 UPDATE: The Saudi Embassy has issued a new press release stating that they have tripled their level of assistance.
They also announce that Saudi TV will be holding a telethon to raise funds for disaster relief on Thursday, January 6. This will permit people to donate funds into authorized channels, obviating questions about the misdirection of charitable funds.
01/06/2005 UPDATE: The Saudi Embassy reports that the Saudi Telethon raised more than $40 million as of 4:00pm yesterday afternoon. Private donations, therefore, are outstripping official donations. This is sure to put additional pressure on the government to increase its own aid.
Saudis Donate Generously to Tsunami Fund Through Telethon
from the Arab News
JEDDAH, 8 January 2005 â€” Saudis responded enthusiastically to a telethon staged to raise money for victims of the Asian tsunami disaster, donating more than SR300 million ($82 million). The Saudi leadership gave SR35 million at the telethon which lasted from Thursday afternoon until the early hours of yesterday.
I mentioned in response to one commenter that the scale of private Saudi contribution through this telethon will be an embarassment to the government since it’s nearly three times the official donation. It will probably put pressure on the government to increase its assistance offer.
As a note of clarification, “the Saudi leadership” as mentioned in the article, means them as inviduals, not as agents of the government. And for those doing their own math, the currency exchange rate is US $1.00 = SR 3.75.
The following piece notes that the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (in which Saudi Arabia plays a major role) is making serious efforts to provide assistance. I can’t tell from news reports whether or not the Saudis are considering this as part of their official relief assistance program. In any event, the $500 million is a significant amount.
IDB to Send Relief Missions to Tsunami-Hit Countries
Habib Shaikh, Arab News
JEDDAH, 8 January 2005 â€” The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is to send missions to Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka to provide relief assistance to the victims of the tsunami disaster.
Later, this would be followed by visits to assess and prepare reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, according to information made available to Arab News on Thursday.
IDB has pledged $500 million to the countries affected by tsunami â€” India, Somalia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.