UNHCR Executive Committee Reviews Efforts During its 70th Session in Geneva:
The Kingdom affirmed that the various political, economic and social changes have caused the relocation of other country nationals to Saudi Arabia, and that it has taken a number of measures and efforts to serve these groups and provide them with all the requirements of a decent life, as well as guaranteeing all their basic rights. It has granted more than 50,000 persons and their families the Saudi citizenship, and more than 800,000 irregular residents have been granted identification documents, enabling them to travel, work, learn and receive health care, while also exempting them from all resulting fees and fines. The Kingdom also clarified that its laws grant the Saudi citizenship to any child born on its territories to unknown parents.
This came during a speech delivered by HE the Vice-President of the Human Rights Commission Dr Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Khayyal at the high-level segment on statelessness within the 70th session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme held at Geneva today. Al-Khayyal stressed that the Kingdom treats these groups in accordance with the principles and teachings of Islam, which calls for affection, love and brotherhood, and seeks to aid the poor and the needy in accordance with the humanitarian principles established by the international conventions and treaties. The Kingdom plays a comprehensive role in supporting all humanitarian causes around the world, occupying the third place in terms of the volume of relief, humanitarian and development aid provided, given that a large portion of this aid is allocated to refugees in areas that have suffered and continue to suffer from conflicts, wars and natural disasters. A sum of approximately USD 18 billion was donated towards alleviating the suffering of displaced refugees forced to leave their homes, of which more than USD 160 million was allocated to Syrian refugees. The Kingdom is also currently implementing 129 programs through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center to support Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece.
With regard to Yemen, the Kingdom has supported the Yemeni refugees in both Somalia and Djibouti, with the Center currently implementing 12 refugee programs in these countries.
Al-Khayyal also commented on the Rohingya refugee crisis, noting that the Kingdom has given over USD 38 million towards their support, and has recently organized the Pledging Conference for the Rohingya Refugee Crisis in cooperation with UNCHR and a number of friendly states, which helped raise more than USD 250 million towards funding the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis. Furthermore, the Kingdom has donated more than USD 900 million to the Palestinian refugee cause, and has recently announced its donation of USD 50 million towards the support of the budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
He added, "Of the 26 million refugees around the world, 1.74 million of them reside in the Kingdom. For humanitarian reasons, the Kingdom does not treat them as refugees, but rather as visitors who enjoy all their basic rights as well as free education and health. They do not live in camps, but in high-quality houses and residential homes. The support provided to them by our government has exceeded USD 16 billion."
Al-Khayyal affirmed that the Kingdom, led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, is undergoing comprehensive reforms and continuous developments under the implementation framework of the Saudi Vision 2030, which focuses primarily on the human factor. He clarified that this promising and ambitious vision encompasses developmental programs and initiatives covering all aspects, and aims to secure the right to identity, health, education and work for every single person living in the Kingdom.
Al-Khayyal said that Kingdom is continuing its efforts and dedication to providing support and assistance in all fields to these groups and to the protection and promotion of human rights. It is also in the process of adopting a comprehensive national program that addresses the situation of all irregular residents, particularly stateless persons, taking into account all their humanitarian rights and guaranteeing them a decent life in accordance with accurate and encompassing mechanisms and regulations.
In closing, Al-Khayyal thanked UNHCR for its important role in protecting and supporting refugees and its contribution to their voluntary repatriation, commending its efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights, especially in this segment about statelessness.