By RICK GLADSTONEJUNE 23, 2017 The newly elevated crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who as defense minister has led the country’s bombing and blockades of Yemen, showed his charitable side on Friday with a $66.7 million donation to fight the cholera outbreak in that country.
The donation authorized by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was announced by the ruling family’s charity, the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, which said the money would go to Unicef and the World Health Organization in response to their urgent pleas.
Accounts in the state-guided Saudi news media said “the donation is an initiative of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and accelerates the Kingdom’s substantial humanitarian efforts in Yemen.” In a statement, Unicef said that it welcomed the infusion of Saudi money and that “we look forward to discussing this contribution” with the kingdom’s royal charity.
At the same time, the Saudis have faced growing criticism from human rights groups, which have accused them of indiscriminate bombings and air and sea blockades that have destroyed what is left of Yemen’s economy and worsened the humanitarian disaster there.
Since the outbreak was declared two months ago, more than 1,265 people have died, Unicef’s resident representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relaño, told reporters in a conference call on Friday.