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RIYADH — A new UN report ranked Saudi Arabia number one for the percentage of GDP applied to international humanitarian aid in 2008. It specified that 0.19 percent of the country's gross domestic product was spent for that purpose.
Although the percentage may seem small, Saudi Arabia donates a greater proportion of its wealth than its regional neighbours and even the U.S., which ranked 19th on the list, donating only 0.02 percent.
UN Development Programme representative in the kingdom, Riyadh Musa, said, "Recent years have witnessed the rise of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a growing force in global development and humanitarian initiatives. The UN headquarters in Riyadh commends the kingdom for its solidarity with other countries. We stand ready to continue our collaborative efforts with Saudi Arabia through our programmes and initiatives in the kingdom and abroad."
The UN report added that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia not only surpassed the United States as the largest relative donor of humanitarian aid, but also European states, which are considered global leaders in the distribution of humanitarian assistance. Sweden donates about 0.14 percent and Norway about 0.13 percent of their respective GDPs.
The humanitarian aid ranking report provided UN officials with an opportunity to announce that the organisation is suffering from a funding shortfall of US$4.8 billion for aid operations in 16 crisis-stricken countries. They noted that the reason for the shortfall is the global economic downturn, which has affected poor countries disproportionately.