The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has committed, on a per capita basis, more to the rebuilding of Afghanistan, than any of the major donors. From 2001 to date, the total amount of aid pledged to Afghanistan by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is over U.S. $233 million. This is in addition to $37 million donated by Saudi citizens as of the end of 2001.
Saudi Arabia is co-chair of the committee supervising the reconstruction of Afghanistan, along with the United States, the European Union, and Japan. The Saudi Development Fund (SDF) is the lead organization for the Kingdom in the relief efforts. SDF is currently expecting proposals for projects to study and fund.
“The rebuilding of Afghanistan is critical to its stability. Saudi Arabia stands ready to allocate the funding it committed, but we are awaiting proposals for specific projects", said Adel Al-Jubeir, Foreign Policy Advisor to Crown Prince Abdullah.
Of the Saudi government’s contributions, $33 million is in direct assistance and $200 million in soft development loans provided by the Saudi Development Fund (SDF). The distribution of these funds is as follows:
1. $10 million has been committed for food, clothing and medicine to Afghan refugees, managed by the Saudi Relief Committee for Afghanistan. Of this amount, the following disbursements have been made:
“In response to the current situation, Saudi Arabia is prepared to accelerate its spending commitments for humanitarian aid. It is our hope that other donors will do the same", stated Al-Jubeir.
2. $220 million has been committed for the reconstruction of Afghanistan as announced at the international donors conference on aid to Afghanistan, held in Tokyo in January 2002. Of this amount, $200 million is in the form of interest-free soft loans from the Saudi Development Fund (SDF) to finance development projects, and $20 million as an emergency grant to the Afghan Transitional Authority. Of the $20 million in emergency grants pledged, $5 million was transferred through SDF to the credit fund supervised by the World Bank and designed to support the budget of the government of Afghanistan, plus funding for urgently needed small projects managed by the World Bank. The remaining $15 million will be transferred on an accelerated basis, with $10 million going to the credit fund and $5 million for the small projects.
3. The $37 million collected from private citizens throughout the Kingdom, as of the end of 2001, is being used to provide humanitarian assistance directly to the Afghan people.
At a recent meeting of the committee supervising aid, Saudi Arabia was praised by the participants for its assistance to Afghanistan.
To date, Saudi aid to Afghanistan has primarily been in the form of humanitarian assistance and small projects carried out by the NGOs. Activity by donors with regard to actual reconstruction projects remains slow due to the lack of stability and security outside the area of Kabul, and the Afghan government's inability to control the outlying regions. Moreover, the administrative structure to provide coordination among financers is still incomplete.
The Minister of Finance of Afghanistan informed the SDF delegation that his government would very soon propose the projects that need to be financed, and the Kingdom looks forward to receiving these proposals so that it can provide the funding necessary to help the Afghan people. The second meeting of the executive group will be held in Kabul in September 2002 to discuss projects to be funded by SDF.