The World Food Programme’s regional representative for Gulf countries thanked the region’s nations for their contributions. Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, were praised by the WFP representative to the GCC region, Mageed Yahia.
Yahia said the contributions have saved lives and continue to save lives by making it possible to distribute nutritious food to children, mothers, lactating mothers, and expectant mothers.
However, the comments seem to contradict recent comments made by WFP Executive Director David Beasley when he recently visited Iceland. Beasley scolded the Gulf states and China for not stepping up in the fight against the global food crisis.
Beasley claimed that Gulf states with massive oil prices are not stepping up.
In the WFP summary of 2021 global contributions, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are ranked as the seventh and 12th biggest donors.
In November 2021, the WFP welcomed “a timely and generous contribution” of $16.8 million from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) to assist Syrian refugees in Jordan and to support nutrition programs for women and children in Pakistan.
The Saudi contribution was made as the WFP struggled to secure funds to continue support to some 465,000 vulnerable refugees in Jordan, most of whom were Syrian refugees, as well as to assist more than 66,000 of the most vulnerable children and women in Pakistan.
Yahia acknowledged the manifold benefits of Gulf aid to Yemen through the WFP. “The impact of that is that we’re keeping people alive there,” he said.
“The Saudi contribution helps us, of course, in this life-saving agenda, but also in the nutrition agenda when giving specialized nutritious food to children, to mothers, lactating mothers, and pregnant mothers. Because if you don’t do that today, tomorrow you will have a negative effect on that, school-feeding that we are providing.”
Asked how many lives have possibly felt the impact of the joint Saudi-UAE aid support, Yahia said: “We’re talking about 40 million people in Yemen. That’s maybe half of the population or more than half of the population.”
There has been a global food crisis since Russia invaded Ukraine. The supply and distribution of grain and fertiliser has been affected massively.
This followed hot on the heels of the Covid pandemic, which had exposed the vulnerability of global food chains.