You can’t claim you are “helping” a person in distress when you are the root cause of the problem.
But that’s exactly what Saudi Arabia did at the high-profile United Nations summit on the ongoing refugee crisis.
Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef reassured the General Assembly this week of its commitment to helping people in need of humanitarian assistance, before stating the huge sum of money the Gulf kingdom has donated to the cause.
“The total humanitarian assistance provided by the kingdom over the past four decades amounted to about $139 billion,” he said.
Bin Nayef went on to say how his country regards Yemeni refugees “as visitors and provides many facilities for more than half a million of them.”
While the monarch was not lying about the aid Saudi Arabia has provided to Yemeni refugees, he conveniently neglected to mention how they became refugees in the first place.
A Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Yemen since March 2015. Around 7,000 people (other estimates put the number at 10,000) have died in the poor Arab country, about half of them civilians, since the conflict began. Over 3 million have been displaced.
Saudi Arabia claims it is fighting Houthi Shiite rebels who want to replace Yemen’s Riyadh-friendly government. However, it is mostly believed to be a proxy war between the Gulf kingdom and its regional rival Iran.
Bin Nayef proudly told the United Nations how Saudi schools “have enrolled nearly 285,000 Yemeni children free of cost.”
Again, he didn’t mention how his country’s military operation has wounded over 1,300 Yemeni children and killed 900 others.
Moreover, a July report by Save The Children stated “one in three Yemeni children under 5 — approximately 1.3 million — are suffering from acute malnutrition.”
The crown prince has pledged to provide additional $75 million to support refugee efforts across the world.
However, it’d be so much better if Saudi Arabia focused more on ending the violence in Yemen, to stem the flow of refugees, instead of pouring out cash because it is peace and not money that can actually prevent additional destruction and loss of life.