BEIRUT

Middle East

Riyadh donates $500M humanitarian aid to Iraq

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud speaks to US Secretary of State John Kerry before meeting at the King's private residence Friday, June 27, 2014 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq Tuesday, to be disbursed through the United Nations to those in need regardless of sect or ethnicity, state media reported.

King Abdullah “has ordered $500 million in humanitarian aid to the brotherly people of Iraq affected by the painful events, including the displaced, regardless of their religion, sect or ethnicity,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told the official SPA news agency.

The United Nations says 1.2 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes by violence this year, hundreds of thousands of them by a 3-week-old Sunni militant offensive that has swept up a swath of territory north of Baghdad.

The Saudi aid will be “provided through U.N. agencies to the Iraqi people only,” the statement said.

Sunni Saudi Arabia has deeply strained relations with Iraq’s Shiite-led government.

Riyadh has accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of creating the conditions for last month’s jihadist-led offensive by marginalizing its Sunni Arab minority.

Maliki has in turn accused the oil-rich kingdom of supporting “terrorism” in his Shiite-majority country.

The International Organization for Migration has called for the creation of humanitarian corridors in Iraq, warning that tens of thousands of Iraqis who have been displaced by the violence are beyond the reach of aid agencies.

 

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