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In Saudi Arabia, UN humanitarian chief begins tour of Persian Gulf region

In Saudi Arabia, UN humanitarian chief begins tour of Persian Gulf region

John Holmes
The top United Nations relief official today began a six-day, four-country visit to the Persian Gulf region by holding talks with senior officials in Saudi Arabia on how to improve partnerships between the world body and Gulf States on humanitarian issues.

John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Abdul Aziz Arrukban, the Secretary-General's Special Humanitarian Envoy, met this morning with Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the President of the Saudi Red Crescent Society (SRCS).

Mr. Holmes and Prince Faisal agreed on the need for improved coordination between the UN and the SRCS so that the appropriate assistance can be provided in relief situations, according to a press release issued by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“It is important to reinforce our cooperation as part of a wider long-term effort to strengthen [the] international humanitarian response,” the Under-Secretary-General said. “Needs are increasing – both from the man-made disasters in so many countries, both in the Middle East region and the Muslim world as a whole, and new challenges such as climate change and the structural rise in food prices. Working together multilaterally gives us the best chance to address these needs in a transparent and coordinated way.”

Mr. Holmes and Mr. Arrukban also held talks with Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Assaf to discuss the country's ongoing support of humanitarian activities worldwide.

After visiting Saudi Arabia, Mr. Holmes is scheduled to travel to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar.