New York

27 March 2018

Secretary-General's press remarks following his meeting with HRH Prince Mohamad Bin Salman Al Saud

It is my enormous honour and my enormous pleasure to welcome His Royal Highness Mohamad Bin Salman, Crown Prince, (First) Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  And I want to ask you please, your royal highness, to convey to His Majesty, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, my very deep gratitude and appreciation and the appreciation of the United Nations, for his generosity and the generosity of the Government and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and for your trust in the UN.

The Voluntary Contributions  Memorandum has been signed, represents an extremely important contribution by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of practically one billion dollars to support the humanitarian cause in Yemen. And I would like to take this occasion to appeal to all the other donors who will be meeting in Geneva next week in the humanitarian pledging conference on Yemen to follow the same generosity that was shown today by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – a generosity that seems fully in line with Islam.  

To give to those in need is a central pillar of Islam.  And I sometimes feel very angry when I see people, namely in my part of the world, trying to portray Islam in a negative way.  I had the opportunity as High Commissioner for Refugees in my multiple contacts with the Muslim world – let’s not forget that two-thirds of the refugees are Muslims and are received by Muslim countries – to see the enormous openness, the enormous generosity, of the Muslim world in relation to refugees coming, opening their borders, their doors, their hearts, in contrast with sometimes what happens in richer countries in other parts of the world. And I have to say that, when I look at today’s international refugee law, there is nothing there that I wouldn’t have found reading the Holy Quran and the Hadiths of the Prophet (M.P.B.U.H.).

And as I had the opportunity to say a few minutes ago, the most beautiful sentence about refugee protection is in the Sura al-Tawba, where it is said that protection shall be given to believers and non-believers.  It is a demonstration of tolerance, a demonstration of respect, a demonstration of openness that is the true face of Islam that I would like today to very strongly underline with appreciation.

On the other hand, we know that there is no humanitarian solution for humanitarian problems.  The solution is political and we are entirely at your disposal to work together to find a political solution allowing to end the suffering of the Yemeni people. And your generous contribution is of extreme relevance, as 22 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. And we hope and we are very appreciative of the recent operations plan, that was put in place, that will help to have full humanitarian access; and we hope it will help to have respect for all aspects of humanitarian law and protection of civilians that are necessary in this context, and we want to work together with Saudi Arabia for all these objectives.

Your royal highness, it was an enormous pleasure to have you with us and I want you please to convey to your people our deep gratitude for your generosity but also our wishes that the reforms that you are leading, aiming at a prosperous, an open, a stable pillar for the region and for the world. I wish that the efforts of reform that you are leading, very courageous and very bold, are fully leading to success. Shukran.

New York, 27 March 2018