SAUDI ARABIA DONATES $5 MILLION TO INDONESIA GOVERNMENT, UN AGENCIES TO SUPPORT EARTHQUAKE RELIEF
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will donate $5 million to support the earthquake relief and recovery efforts of two levels of the Indonesian government and several humanitarian and United Nations agencies, including a $2 million grant to help fund the UN World Food Programme’s cash-strapped operations in the earthquake zones of Central Java and Yogyakarta.
The announcement was made today at a press conference in Jakarta hosted by WFP Special Ambassador Abdul Aziz Arrukban and Mohamed Abdul Rahman Al Mugeteeb of the Saudi Arabian government’s Ministry of Finance.
The decision to donate the funds came near the end of a five-day visit by a six-member Saudi delegation to Jakarta and Yogyakarta, where Amb. Arrukban and delegation members attended an audience with Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hemengkubowono X and inspected the damage caused by the earthquake that struck the region on 27 May.
During the audience on 12 July, the Saudi officials delivered a $500,000 cheque to the Sultan to assist the provincial government’s earthquake recovery efforts and announced that a similar sum would be handed over to the central Government of Indonesia for the same purpose.
“We are pleased to be able to offer some help to the Indonesia authorities and especially to all the people who were victims of this terrible earthquake and who clearly need some help in rebuilding their lives and livelihoods,” Amb. Arrukban told the press conference.
Saudi official Al Mugeteeb echoed that view, adding that he hoped the donation “would help to strengthen the long and deep historical connection between the people of Indonesia and the citizens of Saudi Arabia.”
For WFP, the $2 million donation comes a critical time for the agency’s earthquake programme, which was in jeopardy of being shut down, or least sharply scaled back, due to lack of funds. Until the Saudi contribution, WFP had received only $800,000 in contributions to cover the $5.3 million cost of the operation for a six-month period stretching from last June to next November.
“We’re currently providing supplementary food rations to 120,000 earthquake victims in the nine hardest-hit sub-districts of Bantul and Klaten,” explained Bradley Busetto, WFP Deputy Country Director for Indonesia. “But our food pipeline was assured only until the end of July, after which it would have been difficult to maintain without additional funding.”
To run the six-month Yogyakarta emergency operation, WFP has been forced to divert food from other programmes in Indonesia, where it is sorely needed. But that also entailed problems due to the same problem of lack of finances.
“All our Indonesia programmes combined require $160 million for 2006 and 2007,” noted Busetto, “but so far we’re $120 million short or reaching that target.”
Among the other agencies and institutions who will be receiving Saudi contributions to support earthquake relief efforts are:
• UNESCO; $250,000 to help restore historical monuments damaged during the earthquake, including the Water Palace in Yogyakarta and the famed temple complex at Prambanan.
• World Health Organizaton (WHO): $100,000
• UNAIDS: $100,000
• United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA): $100,000
• Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): $100,000
• Indonesia Red Crescent: 10 ambulances.
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