A policy forum was held at IPI on October 27th on humanitarian assistance in times of conflict. Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Supervisor General for the King Salman Humanitarian and Relief Center, briefed the audience on the work of the center in providing relief aid to Yemen and the region.
The center was founded in May 2015 with the mission of managing and coordinating Saudi Arabia’s external humanitarian relief and development assistance.
“The food security program has been the most active with the health program,” Dr. Rabeeah said. “We’ve been delivering aid within Yemen, in the borders, and those in need in Djibouti.”
“Our center is impartial. We’ve not been involved in the politics or military actions,” he noted. “We have moved our help to cities irrespective of who controls those cities… In five months, our center has been able to provide thirteen food programs, reaching more than five million beneficiaries.”
Moderating the event was Hardeep Singh Puri, Vice President of IPI, who shared with the audience the four guiding principles of humanitarian action: humanity, which drives all humanitarian action to prevent and alleviate human suffering; neutrality, which requires humanitarian organizations to abstain from taking sides; impartiality, which guides humanitarian action to administer relief based on need without discrimination; and respect for independence.
“It is critical to understand and respect the work of NGOs in a conflict situation,” said Rabih Torbay, Senior Vice President of International Operations with the International Medical Corps. “As a non-governmental organization, we have to be impartial in our delivery of services. We cannot politicize who receives aid—everybody in need should receive aid.”
“The aid should be given based on need,” he added. “Not based on tribal, ethnic or religious affiliation, and we need to keep the humanity at the center of everything we do.”
Highlighting the difficulties of working in a conflict situation, Amir Mahmoud Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme, commended the work of humanitarian workers on the ground.
“Our colleagues on the ground in Yemen deserve a huge amount of respect and gratitude. We all have to acknowledge that they put themselves in harm’s way to deliver [the aid] and the need for ensuring their protection must be paramount,” he said.