August 18, 2005
Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street Northwest
Washington DC 20071
Your August 12 editorial ‘Arabian Shame’ performs a great disservice to Saudis by drastically understating the amount of assistance Saudi Arabia gives to the people of Sudan. The Kingdom has always been in the forefront in overseas development assistance. Over the past three decades, Saudi Arabia's foreign aid has averaged about 4 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), well above the official United Nations goal of 0.7 percent.
In addition to the $3 million donated to the United Nations’ Darfur campaign last year, Saudi Arabia contributed $10.7 million in August 2004 for food and medicine to be distributed to the region’s displaced through the Saudi Red Crescent Society. This supplemented an ongoing stream of humanitarian relief that has included supplying power generators, drilling wells for clean water, setting up a fully-equipped 200-bed field hospital and a number of clinics, and dispatching a Saudi medical team to provide urgent health care to the displaced people of the region. Most recently, in April 2005, the Kingdom sent 40 tons of medical equipment and foodstuffs to support the displaced and needy in Darfur. Since last summer, Saudi Arabia has dispatched forty-six aid planes to western Sudan.
Besides relief assistance specifically for Darfur, Saudi Arabia has consistently given emergency relief aid to Sudan when it has been afflicted by flooding, as happened in 2001 and in 2003.
I hope you will consider these facts in future commentaries on the tragedy in Darfur. In the meantime, we will continue to join others from around the world to help our Sudanese neighbors.