Ever since the Syrian conflict began and assumed ominous proportions questions were raised about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the humanitarian relief programs. Large-scale migration of Syrians scrambling on any vessel to escape the horrors of war, fleeing bombardments from friend and foe, trying to escape the horrors of an imposed war — the images that were splashed across every available media caught the attention of all conferences that were held and solutions offered. But there was no political will to end this strife mainly due to an ineffective Arab League, helplessness on part of the parties and bickering by the international powers.
While the conflict continued unabated, solutions had to be offered to alleviate the sufferings of those caught in this deadly conflict — the people. And therein this case, it was the Syrian people, who are being terrorized by a brutal regime on one side and murderous thugs on the other.
Their flight to freedom was wrought with danger — but after having achieved temporary relief of escaping the horrors in Syria the long wait for help and sustenance for survival itself became an issue. The United Nations and some Western countries offered aid and it was much publicized. Questions were raised about Saudi aid and other means of support for these people. I was asked why don’t you allow Syrian refugees in? How many do you have? And the list of questions went on.
We had the statistics and it was relayed to the media but vested interests saw to that they were buried deep in lengthy reports. It was up to the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, who while addressing the 71st session of the UN General Assembly stated that the handling of refugees was primarily based on its ideology, which aimed at peace.
In a very sober, yet significant, speech, he outlined the list of aid given. It included accepting of 2.5 million Syrians since the conflict began. Providing free education to 141,000 of them. In addition 285,000 Yemeni students were getting free education. Refugees in the Horn of Africa also got a slice of Saudi assistance to the tune of $42 million. Another $500 million was donated for humanitarian need in Yemen.
In addition to statistics, the Crown Prince gave words of hope when he said that cooperation and joint work is the only response to the conflicts and fear can be turned into hope.
Saudi Arabia, itself a victim of terror, has been leading the fight against it both on the domestic and international fronts. It has done so with the sole objective of ushering in a more peaceful world. It also has cooperated by sharing information and even thwarting planned operations.
The Crown Prince is a man of few words but the words and figures he uttered at the UN General Assembly meeting silenced all the doubters once and for all. For his comprehensive speech sent out a succinct message to the world that the Kingdom’s stand is to promote peace.