Amir announces $500 million pledge for Syrian people

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah attends the opening ceremony of the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, at Bayan Palace

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah attends the opening ceremony of the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, at Bayan Palace

KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday announced $500 million pledge for the Syrian people to help ease their suffering, urging UN Security Council (UNSC) members states to act and end the conflict politically. Kuwait government and people have rushed to the help of the Syrian brothers since the onset of the crisis in March 2011, which has entered its fifth year. However, “in view of the continuity of the tragic situations suffered by our brothers and sisters in Syria, and proceeding from our belief in the importance and the need to convey a message to the Syrian people, that the international community stand by them, feel their suffering, and will not abandon them in their plight, I am pleased to announce the contribution of the State of Kuwait in the amount of $500 million from both the governmental and civil sectors, in support of the humanitarian situation” of the Syrian people, HH the Amir said. Addressing the Third International Pledging Humanitarian Conference for Syria, HH the Amir said that Kuwait III was held in the face of the “biggest humanitarian catastrophe witnessed by humanity in our contemporary history.” Kuwait hosted the first and second pledging conferences in 2013 and 2014, noted HH the Amir. He said 90 percent of pledges made at the second conference were honored. “We are hopeful that your conference will register the generous adequate response to meet the urgent needs of our brothers in Syria,” he said.

Casualty figures HH the Amir noted that the Syrian conflict has transformed streets and neighborhoods of Syria into rubble, the buildings into ruins, and the people of Syria became merely casualty figures of death and displacement. “The frightening figures and documented data, about the economic and social impact of the crisis, published lately by international organizations, based on research studies, reveal that destruction is the headline in every region in Syria, without exception,” said HH the Amir. He said the crisis killed more than 210,000 people, displaced some 12 million others internally and in neighboring countries, all of them live in harsh conditions, and in tragic humanitarian situations.” The catastrophe in Syria has also deprived two million Syrian children, under 18 years of age, of their most basic rights in education and healthcare, which threatens the future of an entire generation, leaving them to face a gloomy future, and depriving their country of their active participation in building it, said HH the Amir.

Syrian economy The Syrian economy suffered more than $200 billion in losses, unemployment rate stands at 57 percent, while the life expectancy rate has dropped to 55 years, the rates of poverty have risen, and the number of Syrian refugees outside the country is 3.9 million people, the biggest refugee society in the world, said the Kuwaiti leader. The crisis in Syria created safe havens for terrorist groups who use the state of instability to carry out their “sinister plans,” HH the Amir said. HH Sheikh Sabah paid tribute to the five neighboring countries hosting some 3.9 million Syrian refugees – Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt – which have been offering immense humanitarian and relief services, despite the heavy burden on their economies and security. HH the Amir also thanked all UN agencies working on the ground, especially UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO, WFP and OHCA. HH the Amir urged the UN Security Council to put their differences aside to end the conflict, stop the bloodshed, cease grave human rights violations and punish those who committed crimes against the Syrian people. The only comprehensive political solutions should be based on the communique of the 2012 Geneva I conference, he said, and affirmed support for efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General to Syria Staffan De Mistura.—KUNA

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Syria aid pledges hit $3.8bn at donor meet – Kuwait contributes $500m – Amir, UN chief warn situation dire

HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah (center), United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (left) and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah attend the opening ceremony of the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria at Bayan Palace

HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah (center), United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (left) and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah attend the opening ceremony of the Third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria at Bayan Palace

KUWAIT: International donors pledged $3.8 billion yesterday to help alleviate war-torn Syria’s humanitarian crisis, which HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah warned was the worst in “modern history”. “I am pleased to announce the contribution of the State of Kuwait of the amount of $500 million from both the government and civil sectors, in support of the humanitarian situation” of the Syrian people, the Amir said. Addressing the Third International Pledging Humanitarian Conference for Syria, Sheikh Sabah said the meeting was held in the face of the “biggest humanitarian catastrophe witnessed by humanity in our contemporary history.” UN chief Ban Ki-moon told participants at the meeting in Kuwait that four out of five people in Syria were living in “poverty, misery and deprivation”. “The Syrian people are victims of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time,” he said. Addressing the closing session of the conference, Ban welcomed the promised funds as “very generous”.

The amount almost equals the combined total of $3.9 billion promised at the two previous conferences. The EU pledged nearly €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion), double the amount the bloc offered last year. The United States pledged $507 million and non-governmental organizations committed more than $500 million. Other major contributions came from Britain with $150 million, United Arab Emirates with $100 million and Norway, which promised $93 million. Saudi Arabia pledged $60 million. The UN had requested $8.4 billion this year – its largest appeal yet for the war-ravaged country. Jordan and Lebanon, which together host close to 2.5 million refugees, were represented by their premiers who appealed for international aid to help their economies cope with the tragedy.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah proposed to set up a special fund for the education of Syrian children. In Brussels, EU aid commissioner Christos Stylianides said in a statement that “the needs are overwhelming, and an extraordinary effort is needed by the wider donor community to mobilise significant funding”. The money pledged by the bloc consists of €500 million in “humanitarian aid, early recovery and longer-term stabilization assistance” from the European Commission, with the balance coming in pledges from the bloc’s 28 countries, the EU said. “Four out of five Syrians live in poverty, misery and deprivation.

The country has lost nearly four decades of human development,” Ban said. Earlier in the day, he offered stinging remarks, saying he has “only shame and deep anger and frustration at the international community’s impotence to stop the war”. “They are not asking for sympathy, they are asking for help,” he said of the Syrian people. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said that despite the UN making its largest humanitarian appeal in history, “many countries are giving the same amount, or even less than they have in the past.” Yesterday’s roughly half-billion-dollar US pledge is in addition to nearly $3.2 billion the country has provided since the conflict began, she said. “Years from now, when Syrians and the world look back on the country’s horrific crisis, they will remember which countries stepped up to help people in dire need, and which countries did little or nothing at all,” she told the conference.

Kuwait has hosted a donor conference for Syrians in each of the past two years, generating several billion dollars worth of pledges. Yesterday’s conference, attended by representatives from nearly 80 countries, was preceded by a meeting of charitable organizations, which pledged a total of $506 million. “Failing to meet the required funds risks resulting in a horrifying and dangerous humanitarian catastrophe,” Abdullah Al-Maatouq, UN special envoy for humanitarian affairs, said as he opened that meeting. The UN has complained that not all previous pledges for aid had translated into funding. Ban said in a report last week that the war had forced around 7.6 million people to leave their homes in Syria, while another 3.9 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries. “Every day brings more death, displacement and destruction,” the report said. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned of an “unsustainable” situation. “After four years of conflict, we are at a tipping point. It is clear that the world’s response to the crisis in Syria cannot be business as usual.

The situation is becoming unsustainable,” he said. Almost half of all Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. The United Nations has launched an appeal for $8.4 billion in 2015 to fund its humanitarian operations in Syria, with $5.5 billion intended for Syrian refugees and $2.9 billion for people inside the war-ravaged country. On Monday, international aid agency Oxfam criticised the international response to the Syrian crisis, saying money pledged was woefully inadequate. Last year was the deadliest yet in the conflict, with at least 76,000 people killed out of a total of more than 215,000 since it began in March 2011 with peaceful prodemocracy demonstrations. — Agencies

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Parliament delays decision on rents law amendments

Abdulhameed Dashti

Abdulhameed Dashti

KUWAIT: The parliamentary legislative and legal committee on Monday adjourned taking a decision on proposed amendments to the rents law and a relevant government bill to its next meeting.

The commission discussed proposals for adding a new provision to the decree-into-law 116/1992, regarding administrative organization and specification of jurisdictions, said MP Dr Abdulhamid Dashti, the committee’s rapporteur.

MP Dashti indicated that the committee decided to hold talks with government advisors and seek to persuade them to maintain the current rental legislations, without amendments. He also noted that the Civil Service Commission should supervise any decisions in this regard, in advance. — KUNA

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‘Kuwait persistent in drying terrorism funding sources’

Minister Yaqoub Al-Sane

Minister Yaqoub Al-Sane

KUWAIT: Kuwait takes positive steps at fighting terrorism both in discounting errant ideologies and in countering terrorist activities, including monitoring any attempt at money-laundering, a senior government official said yesterday. Minister of Justice, Awqaf, and Islamic Affairs Yaqoub Al-Sane emphasized that all money-transfer transactions to locations abroad are strictly watched for any suspicion of moneylaundering, money that might be used in funding terrorist activities. The minister made these remarks as he met in his office with the ambassador of the Netherlands Nicholas Beets.

The two officials mainly discussed Kuwait’s efforts against terrorism and moneylaundering. The Kuwaiti minister stressed that all monies that are transferred to locations outside of Kuwait as donations are those strictly collected domestically from recognizable and statesanctioned charities and relief aid organizations. He said Kuwait has in recent times passed law no106 for the year 2013 on fighting money-laundering and drying up sources of funding terrorism. The Dutch ambassador applauded Kuwait’s efforts in fighting moneylaundering and drying up sources of funding terrorism. —KUNA

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Eagle Resolve successful, effective: Chief of Staff

Kuwait Army Chief of Staff Lt Gen Mohammad Al-Khedhr meets Deputy Commander of US Central Command Vice Admiral Mark Fox

Kuwait Army Chief of Staff Lt Gen Mohammad Al-Khedhr meets Deputy Commander of US Central Command Vice Admiral Mark Fox

KUWAIT: Kuwait Army Chief of Staff Lt Gen Mohammad Al- Khedhr applauded the military exercise known as Eagle Resolve which is held annually by the Kuwaiti army along with guests from the armed forces of 29 countries. This came during a meeting for officers and commanders yesterday. Director of the exercise Maj Gen Ahmad Al-Omairi also extolled the exercise and all those participating in it, stressing that all aims of the exercise had been met this year. Rick Mattson, US Central Command (CENTCOM) director of exercises and training, said meanwhile that up to 4000 participants took part in Eagle Resolve 2015.

Brigadier Mohammad Al-Kanderi, General Coordinator of the exercise, noted that the exercise was extensive in its scope and was further indication of its annual success. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani and top military officials from GCC countries as well as other countries attended the meeting. Meanwhile, Lt Gen Khedhr held talks with Deputy Commander of US Central Command Vice Admiral Mark Fox, which focused on military topics of mutual interest. During the meeting, Lt Gen Khedhr lauded the cooperation between the two countries, Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense’s Directorate of Moral Guidance and Public Relations said in a statement. The two sides also focused on the ways of promoting and developing the military cooperation. —KUNA

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Saudis, Houthis trade ‘heavy fire’ on border

 ADEN, March 31, (Agencies): Saudi troops clashed with Yemeni Houthi fighters on Tuesday in the heaviest exchange of cross-border fire since the start of a Saudi-led air offensive last week, while Yemen’s foreign minister called for a rapid Arab int…