Posted by Rafiq A. Tschannen
RIYADH: Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia, led international efforts in extending aid to starving African states and donated billions of riyals to the victims of a severe drought in Somalia and the Horn of Africa region this year. The Kingdom was also on the forefront of the aid given to several African countries, which have been suffering from civil war, poverty and natural disasters for years, said a report released yesterday by the Gulf Africa Investment & Development Support Office (GAIDSO).
The report said that “the aid extended to African states in cash and kind rescued a large population in the African continent.” Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah donated SR 225 million in aid for Somalia and awarded a soft loan of SR 828 million to Tunisia besides millions of riyals given in aid and loan to several other countries like Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Ethiopia. The details of the report were released by GAIDO, an international organization that supports investment, development and charity in Africa.
Referring to Saudi support of African countries, the report said that the Kingdom granted a SR 828 million soft loan to Tunisia to implement three major projects there. This is part of the SR 1.9 billion pledged by the Kingdom to Tunisia in mid-May this year, said the report, adding that Tunisia, a North African country whose January 2011 revolution ended the 23-year rule of Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali, is in urgent need of aid and soft loans to build its infrastructure and bring its economy back on track.
The report further pointed out that Saudi Arabia had extended a SR 45 million loan to Sierra Leone and Mozambique. The two African countries are facing significant economic challenges and the Saudi funds will be used to build schools in the southeast African state of Mozambique. The Kingdom also sent a consignment of medicine worth millions of riyals to Sierra Leone, a West African nation with a predominantly poor Muslim population.
Saudi Arabia recently provided aid worth approximately SR 700 million for countries of the African coast suffering from drought.