As the World Food Programme ramps up its food assistance projects in Arab countries like Syria and Yemen, its Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin today visited the agency’s facilities at Dubai’s International Humanitarian City (IHC), the largest humanitarian logistics hub worldwide. With more than 40,000 sqm of space offered by IHC, WFP is the largest user of the Dubai-based logistics center for UN agencies, the Red Crescent and Red Cross and other major NGOs that provide aid in both emergencies and for development to help the poor in less developed countries. WFP maintains a staff there of more than 100 handling both food assistance and emergency communications for which WFP has the lead in the UN system.
WFP first started operating in Dubai in 2005 as a result of a $10 million grant from HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and other private Dubai corporate sources. Chaired by UN Messenger of Peace HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed, the IHC now has nine UN agencies and more than 40 NGOs and commercial companies as members with over 300 staff in Jebel Ali, which is strategically located between the new Al Maktoum International Airport and Jebel Ali Port. Members maintain stocks of food, water purifiers, tents, communications equipment and medicines critical for aid operations. In addition, its facilities include a training and conference center and operational offices for both UN and NGO members. The IHC also houses temporary offices for UN members when staff are evacuated during armed conflicts. Aid is shipped primarily to eastern and southern Africa and Asia, though it has been shipped as far away as Haiti after the major earthquake there in 2010.
Executive Director Cousin is also in Dubai for WFP’s Global Management Meeting bringing together senior managers from 90 offices worldwide. This is the first time that WFP is holding its annual meeting in the Middle East. The meeting is being hosted by the IHC and the Government of Dubai with financial support from Emirates Airlines and the Atlantis Hotel Group. WFP managers will address critical issues like rising global food prices, conflicts in Syria and the DR Congo, and the persistence of chronic malnutrition in large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia at a time when donations from some traditional Western donors are beginning to contract.
The tour of IHC facilities was conducted by the CEO of the IHC, HE Shaima Al Zarooni.