Donations to help assist the people affected by the humanitarian crisis in Iraq has received a big boost as Saudi Arabia has pledged $500 million in aid to the United Nations to deal with the crisis. More than one million Iraqis have had their lives uprooted by the recent Sunni insurgency in Iraq. The United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a public statement thanking the Saudis for their generosity.
The $500 million donation from Saudi Arabia is significantly more than the $312 million in emergency funds sought by the United Nations to deal with the Iraq crisis. In addition to the Iraqis displaced during the war that lasted from 2003 to 2011, more than a million people have been newly uprooted from their homes in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities in northern Iraq by the assault from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The ISIS enjoys wide support in many Sunni areas of the country.
According to Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, the aid would be distributed through the United Nations to all Iraqis regardless of religion, sect or ethnicity. Some critics have blamed Saudi Arabia, a hub of Sunni Islam, for the violence that has now spread through Iraq and Syria. It is believed that Saudi Arabia helped finance and arm the Sunni insurgents in Syria who were opposing President Bashar al-Assad.
Secretary of State John Kerry has been urging the Iraqi leaders to form a new inclusive Iraqi government that is sensitive to the needs of the country’s Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish citizens. Kurdish officials said that the Kurds were prepared to play a role in forming a new government as long as they were granted expanded political and economic autonomy. Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has offered amnesty to anyone who fought with or supported the insurgents in an effort at reconciliation.