Enhanced strategic partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Published on 20 November 2007

Under the auspices of the Royal Court, the United Nations World Food Programme has been discussing this week with the authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ways to further strengthen their humanitarian partnership to help feed the hungry poor around the world.

Under the auspices of the Royal Court, the United Nations World Food Programme has been discussing this week with the authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ways to further

A strategic partnership between the two in the area of humanitarian assistance is a natural alliance which would benefit millions of the world's most vulnerable and needy people
WFP Deputy Executive Director John M. Powell

strengthen their humanitarian partnership to help feed the hungry poor around the world.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the guidance of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is one of the major providers of humanitarian assistance globally. The World Food Programme is a leading United Nations Agency in humanitarian action.

"Natural alliance"

"A strategic partnership between the two in the area of humanitarian assistance is a natural alliance which would benefit millions of the world's most vulnerable and needy people", said WFP Deputy Executive Director John M. Powell who is leading the delegation's official visit to the Kingdom.

The WFP delegation, which included the leaders of WFP's work in Ethiopia and in the occupied Palestinian territory, met first with His Excellency Dr Fahad Bin Abdulrahman Balghunaim, Minister of Agriculture.

Substantive discussions also took place with senior officials at the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and the Interior, as well as with the Saudi Fund for Development.

Joint action

The delegation had the honor to be received by His Royal Highness Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, President of the Saudi Red Crescent Society, where the scope for joint action in humanitarian crises was the focus of discussion.

Following the meeting, His Royal Highness expressed his appreciation to the Deputy Executive Director for a valuable and enlightening meeting.

"The Red Crescent Society, under the direction of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and His Highness the Crown Prince, will continue to provide assistance to our brothers, sisters and friends most in need around the world," he said.

"I wish WFP all the success in its noble task of alleviating human suffering. We are looking forward to the visit of WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran early next year and to continuing our discussions on how to better serve humanity."

Support

Since 2006, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has contributed over US$40 million in support of WFP's humanitarian efforts worldwide.

In the occupied Palestinian territory WFP provides food assistance to nearly 700,000 of the most vulnerable people in the West Bank and Gaza strip, who have been dramatically affected by escalating violence, a stagnating economy and rising unemployment.

In Ethiopia, WFP currently assists more than five million people. Most of these people are women and children who struggle to meet their daily food needs in the face of chronic poverty and recurrent natural disasters such as droughts and floods. More than 80 percent of Ethiopia's 77 million people live in rural areas, relying predominantly on rain-fed farming.

During the four-day visit the WFP Deputy Executive Director also traveled to Jeddah for high-level discussions with the Islamic Development Bank, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and its Islamic Solidarity Fund.