The European Union’s crisis management commissioner, Janez Lenarcic, has called for the expansion of the donor base for global humanitarian aid during his visit to the Delegation of the European Union to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. Lenarcic noted that the current donor base is narrow, with the 10 largest donors contributing more than 80% of global humanitarian aid, which he believes is neither fair nor sustainable. He urged others who are capable of contributing more to assume greater responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance to those in need.
Lenarcic attended the 3rd Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum on Feb. 20, where he discussed the growing humanitarian needs around the world and the necessary response from the international donor and humanitarian community. He also met with Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, the adviser at the Royal Court and supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, to discuss relief and humanitarian affairs of common interest.
Lenarcic noted that Saudi Arabia is one of the 10 largest humanitarian donors, along with the European Commission and European Union, making them allies in addressing the growing funding gap and encouraging others to contribute their fair share. He believes that ongoing conflicts are the major source of humanitarian crises and that preventing new conflicts and working harder to stop existing ones is crucial.
During his interview, Lenarcic highlighted the European Union’s humanitarian efforts following the earthquake that affected Turkey and Syria on February 6th. He explained that the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, established in 2001, strengthens cooperation between states on civil protection to improve preparedness and response to disasters. The mechanism allowed the EU to respond to requests for assistance from Turkey and Syria, providing search and rescue teams, emergency shelter items, and medical teams, among other things.
Lenarcic also praised the Kingdom’s KS Relief, which was among the largest active donors during the early stages of the earthquake. KS Relief provided more than 4,200 Saudi medics to aid survivors in Turkey and Syria, along with $49 million of aid to help house survivors and provide healthcare. KS Relief also established an air bridge to send plane-loads of aid to both countries.
Lenarcic’s call for the expansion of the donor base for global humanitarian aid is timely and necessary, given the growing humanitarian needs worldwide. The concentration of aid among a few major donors is not sustainable, and other countries and organizations must step up and contribute their fair share. The European Union’s efforts in response to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria demonstrate the importance of coordinated and effective humanitarian aid, and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism plays a crucial role in this regard. Collaborative efforts between Saudi Arabia and the European Union, as two of the largest humanitarian donors, can go a long way in addressing the funding gap and improving the lives of those in need.