Saudi Arabia Relief Center Head Says Wants to See Grain Deal Extended

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Russian rice - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.02.2023
RIYADH (Sputnik) - The head of Saudi Arabia's King Salman Humanitarian Aid center, Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, told Sputnik he wants to see the grain deal extended and politics put aside.
“I want to see the grain from Russia, from Ukraine or any country that can provide grain extended because honestly nothing more painful than to see people hungry,” Al-Rabeeah said. "I want to see the grain supplies available and so that people will be able at least to eat peaceful."
A dump track unloads grain in a granary in the village of Zghurivka, Ukraine, Aug. 9, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.02.2023
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He also said he wants the Ukraine conflict resolved for the purposes of regional stability as much as he wants the Yemen conflict solved.
"My wishes are equally that we will see long lasting political solution in Ukraine that provides stability for all countries involved," he said.
Al-Rabeeah stressed that Saudi Arabia wants to see stability in Ukraine, wants to see stability in Yemen, and in Syria as well as in other places.
He also said that Riadh is ready to provide humanitarian aid to the Donbass region's residents if there is an official request. Al-Rabeeah also said that the organization was helping "people wherever they are."
He added that Kiev had requested blankets, heaters, and water treatment plants, and that the aid center was still collecting the batch.
UN agencies for humanitarian and refugee affairs appealed last week for $5.6 billion in humanitarian aid to help more than 15 million Ukrainians affected by the conflict. Out of this sum, $3.9 billion has been requested under the Humanitarian Response Plan for Ukraine to provide 11.1 million people with food and medicines.
The remaining $1.7 billion will be used to help 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees hosted in 10 countries – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia – under the Refugee Response Plan.
Al-Rabeeah highlighted that the international community needs a more neutral and evidence-based approach to delivering humanitarian assistance and distributing resources.
"I think that the attention is not neutral. The international community's attention to conflicts, or to disasters or to economy is not neutral. And if an event happens in one country or region, the attention will be high and the funding will be high. If it is in a remote [location], like Africa or any other part of the world, it will probably not receive the same attention and that's a big problem in the humanitarian community," Al-Rabeeah said.
Al-Rabeeah spoke on the sidelines of the third Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum, during which a number of speakers raised the issue of some countries being well-supported, including Ukraine, while others being underfunded like countries in Africa and Latin America.
"There should be a system where all of those data are collected and the needs assessment is collected by a digital system, analyzed by digital system based on artificial intelligence and good research, so that we divert resources to the high-need people," Al-Rabeeah said. "I'm not against any country, I'm with every country, but also we should not forget those who are most in need. So I feel that we have a long way to coordinate our work and to use our evidence-based science in our work."
Poor coordination is part of the problem and was also discussed during the forum, he added.
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"In some parts, we may be overfunded and in other parts we're may be extremely underfunded. That's because of incoordination," he said. "So that has been discussed openly and widely and also we lack the research, we lack evidence-based science. The science community, the research community is still far away from humanitarian work. They have to be active because if we involve them, we'll probably increase the impact of humanitarian work on the ground."
Most of the discussions at the forum, Al-Rabeeah noted, focused on the increasing demand for aid due to conflicts, natural disasters, economic issues and the coronavirus crisis. The issue of priorities was also addressed.
"Honestly, all of us are worried how we define priorities and there is a vagueness on defining priorities," he explained. "What I myself feel, we should utilize appropriate data collections using digitalization, artificial intelligence and then use this data ... to choose the priority based on evidence and not based on motives. So, this is something that has been discussed openly and clearly."
The participants also discussed how they can utilize host communities and invest in them and also build the capacity for local actors, the KSRelief chief said.
The humanitarian forum in Riyadh brought together several dozen humanitarian organizations and officials from various countries.
Al-Rabeeah expressed the belief that the forum, which also saw one-to-one meetings between UN officials, politicians and humanitarian organizations as well as some 30 agreements struck, will "mature into something which is going to benefit humanitarian players."
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