The humanitarian role played by Saudi Arabia in supporting Yemeni people since 2011 is not limited to the last decade that witnessed widespread chaos in the region, including Yemen. Historically, Yemen has always been a region of concern with wide-scale support by Saudi leadership.
The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) was established to put these efforts into an organized framework, enhance their efficiency and bring about significant results. Since its launch, KSrelief assumed its humanitarian role on both regional and international levels.
Meantime, it has given ultimate priority to tackle the deteriorating humanitarian conditions of Yemeni citizens, especially after the events of the so-called Arab spring which turned into severe winter that froze the blood in the veins of Yemeni state institutions.
The Yemeni government fell into conflict with armed militias that took a violent path to achieve their aspirations at the expense of the state and the people. Thus, providing assistance to the Yemeni people has become everyone’s duty in order to save them from the terrorism of Houthis who receive broad and diverse Iranian support, mostly from the Iranian proxy in the region, the Lebanese Hezbollah.
NEW HUMANITARIAN AGREEMENT
In pursuit of its humanitarian responsibility towards the Yemeni people, KSrelief has adopted an approach that strikes a balance between the necessity of aiding unarmed Yemeni people who didn’t commit crimes or promote violence and killings and the necessity of confronting violent, extremist, and terrorist groups. Such a balanced approach is manifested in the center’s developmental projects, contributions, and subsistence aid. The most recent of these projects is an agreement signed by the KSrelief and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in early January 2022 to provide shelters to displaced families all over Yemen. According to the agreement, 104,406 persons will benefit from six million dollars in aid which will provide 6,000 houses and 14,000 shelter bags for displaced families that are affected by the humanitarian crisis in many governorates: Hajjah, Al-Jouf, Al-Baida, Omran, Taiz, Hodeidah, Sanaa, Abyan, Ibb, Dhamar, Aden, Lahaj, Capital Municipality, Al-Dali, and Saada. Undoubtedly, such an agreement deserves due recognition of the humanitarian role played by KSrelief, declared the UNHCR Representative to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Khalid Khalifah: “We are proud of our partnership with KSrelief and we highly appreciate its continuous backing and important contribution to support the needy displaced people in Yemen.” He also added, “The contribution will support UNHCR's efforts in responding to the shelter needs of underprivileged families and help them enjoy decent lives.” This reflects the UNHCR’s need for the support provided by KSrelief to help Yemeni brothers and sisters in various areas and to alleviate their suffering. The UNHCR described the Yemeni crisis as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world with more than 4 million people uprooted from their homes and more than 20 million in dire need of humanitarian assistance.”
Therefore, this agreement will complete the efforts exerted by KSrelief to help displaced Yemenis. These efforts take the form of goal-oriented and well-defined initiatives which enable the observation and assessment of its objectives and outcomes for the purpose of strengthening the regional and international role of Saudi Arabia.
SAUDI HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT PROGRAMS FOR YEMENIS
In this regard, the most prominent KSrelief programs implemented in Yemen or other regions for Yemeni people include:
First: “Nabdh AlSaudia” helps internally or externally displaced Yemenis. Many initiatives were implemented within this project. One significant initiative took place in early January 2021 when the center distributed 1300 food baskets to 7800 people who were displaced from Al-Jouf to Al-Rayan in Marib. The initiative also supplied female breadwinners in the Marib governorate with vocational tools for various crafts such as sewing, photography, pastry-making, and incense-making. The vocational supplies were part of the “Seed of Safety Project” in order to support more than 300 orphans in four governorates in Marib, Al-Jouf, Sanaa, and Al-Baida.
Second: “MASAM” is a Saudi humanitarian project for landmines clearance in Yemen, which suffers from large numbers of landmines. These mines and explosive devices killed thousands of children, women, and elderly people and caused permanent disabilities that burdened healthcare institutions and incurred economic losses. Since the beginning of the project, 303,279 landmines and explosive devices were cleared, according to the website of KSrelief.
Third: “Artificial Limbs” is a program linked with the abovementioned project. KSrelief launched a humanitarian project to support and fund artificial limb centers that provide free service for amputees, which includes many women and children across Yemeni governorates. The program provided support for 25,340 people.
Fourth: There is the “Child-Soldier Rehabilitation Program” which is a distinctive humanitarian program launched in Marib in September 2017 to rehabilitate child soldiers and children affected by the armed conflict with the aim of returning them to their normal lives and socially supporting them. Since its launch and until last December, the project directly benefited 530 children, in addition to indirect benefits received by parents, which raises the number to 60,650 beneficiaries.
Fifth: “Guests Inside the Kingdom” is a program that provides various forms of assistance to refugees inside the Kingdom such as free healthcare and education in addition to social inclusion across the Kingdom and appropriate jobs. The amount of aid totaled USD$ 9,378,878,174.
Sixth: “Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project” (YECRP) is run by KSrelief in cooperation with the UN Development Program (UNDP) in order to join forces in responding to the famine. The KSrelief provided funding to achieve three practical outcomes: to create short-term employment by rehabilitating basic service infrastructure (e.g., roads, water, sanitation, and hygiene); enhance local food production capacity; and, preserve the capacities of the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and the Public Works Projects (PWP), which are two key national institutions. It is noteworthy that the KSrelief role also included providing various humanitarian aid to Yemenis to confront famine throughout the past years. In early February 2021, KSrelief contributed 40 million dollars to the UN World Food Program to give essential food aid to families in dire need. That came following previous efforts in which the center gave humanitarian aid to the World Food Program: about 138 million dollars in 2020, and 380 and 260 million dollars in 2018 and 2019 respectively, for the same purpose.
All that is part of the humanitarian efforts exerted by Saudi Arabia via KSrelief to support Yemeni brothers and sisters and alleviate their mounting suffering under the Houthis terrorism against Yemeni people and the region as a whole. In contrast, Saudi Arabia confronts continuous Houthi aggression, represented in illegitimate attacks launched by Iranian-backed Houthis against Saudi territories. According to a recent report issued by “The Center for Strategic and International Studies,” more than 4100 attacks were launched by Houthis against Saudi Arabia between 2016 and 2021. The frequency of such attacks increased during the first nine months of 2021, with a monthly average of 78 Houthi attacks against the Kingdom. This reveals the role played by the Houthis in contrast to the false claims and grievances they propagate through the media. Similar to the Iranian approach of spreading false claims, they want to gain regional and international public support. However, on one hand, the facts reveal these as falsehoods and uncover the criminal practices of the Houthi movement. On the other hand, the facts show the humanitarian aspect of Saudi policies not only towards Yemen, its legitimate government, and its honest people but also towards various regional and international crises. Saudi Arabia has never been late in extending its hand with aid and relief to any refugee, displaced, injured, or needy person. This has been the approach adopted by the Kingdom since it was established by its founders and until the present.