Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid opens DIHAD 2008

Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid opens DIHAD 2008
Dubai, April 8th, 2008 (WAM) - HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Foundation for Events Management and Organisation today inaugurated the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development DIHAD 2008.

The event is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed said in the keynote speech, read on his behalf by Ibrahim Bumelha Vice President Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment and Chairman of DIHAD, the organisation of the event in the UAE was the best example of the great attention given to the humanitarian works in the country.

"Our communities are faced with major challenges posed by the natural calamities which hit different countries indiscriminately and disasters created by armed conflicts. This prompts us to draw up plans and strategies to confront such challenges," he said.

HE Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, Board Chairman of the UAE Red Crescent Authority delivered a speech on behalf of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the RCA.

He said it was a source of pleasure that the UAE is hosting such a major event which reflects UAE's vision for the development of humanitarian works.

John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, commended Gulf States for their support of humanitarian assistance efforts in many crises but called for increased UN-Gulf collaboration to address growing humanitarian needs more effectively and more multilaterally.

"In many countries across the globe, the combined humanitarian efforts of Gulf countries have made a life-saving difference, reaching communities that, at times, the UN and other aid actors could not," said Holmes, while delivering the keynote speech at the opening of the fifth annual Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development (DIHAD) conference.

"But if we are to meet the growing array of humanitarian needs, we must work together more cohesively not only to respond to crises, but also to reduce their impact before they happen," he said.

Holmes predicted that global demand for humanitarian assistance would grow both from ongoing internal and civil conflicts and from more frequent and intense natural disasters.

"The biggest single cause, for my money, will be climate change, and the increased incidence and severity of extreme weather events associated with it," he said adding that recorded disasters doubled from 200 to 400 per year over the past two decades, with nine out of ten disasters now being climate-related.

"Mitigating such trends requires not only improving our ability to respond to humanitarian crises, but investing in preparing disaster-prone communities, many of which are poor, to withstand their impact." At a time when close to 60 percent of UN emergency assistance is provided to countries with Muslim populations, close engagement between the countries of the Gulf and the UN system would also help build a more diverse system that demonstrates that shared commitment to ending suffering can outweigh political and cultural differences.

"Partnership between Gulf States and the UN would not only reinforce our current activities, but also help build a more fully-representative and universally accepted humanitarian movement that is better equipped to meet the challenges of both man and nature in the 21st Century," said Holmes, "Without this balance, there is a risk that humanitarian assistance will continue to be viewed as a Western enterprise." WAM/MAB