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Qatar, US join hands to support humanitarian assistance globally

Qatar and the United States discussed shared priorities and potential areas of cooperation during a meeting on Wednesday where the two countries agree to improve humanitarian assistance around the globe.

A joint session on humanitarian assistance was conducted by the Qatar Fund for Development, the US Department of State, and the US Agency for International Development as a part of the Fifth US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, organised by Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to Qatar News Agency, the need for more assistance for women and children in risky situations, the rising levels of food insecurity around the globe, and the significance of quick responses to developing humanitarian crises, were just some of the topics discussed during the session.

While the report made no mention of the recent earthquakes, the meeting on Wednesday came amid a global humanitarian response to attend to survivors and victims of the region’s deadliest natural disasters in decades.

Earlier this month, two major earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria, resulting in more than 47,000 deaths and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless across both countries.

Both Qatar and the United States stepped in to help, with Washington pitching in $185 million in relief aid.

Last week, the foreign ministry said Qatar’s humanitarian aid to victims in both countries amounted to around QAR 253 million.

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was the first leader to visit Turkey in the aftermath of the tragedy.

The amir also personally donated QAR 50 million ($14 million) to earthquake victims on live television during the Oun and Sanad campaign, contributing to the QAR 168,015,836 (around $19 million) raised.

Qatar has been heavily involved in on-the-ground humanitarian and rescue operations since the earthquakes struck on February 6.

Speaking at the weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Dr. Majed Al Ansari said the Gulf state has so far launched 40 flights to Turkey, two departing Doha daily.

Dr. Al Ansari added that Qatar is in the process of sending 4,845 mobile houses out of a total of 10,000 previously promised to help thousands left homeless by the natural disaster. Both Education City and Aspire Park have also provided more than 50 mobile toilets, he added.

As part of its efforts to allow the delivery of aid, the Qatari Armed Forces (QEAF) have been transporting essentials from Jordan and Germany to Turkey, Al Ansari said.

“He also pointed out that seven units of large tents, along with all their requirements, are being transferred to the affected people, indicating that these tents will be used as large shelters and hospitals for the largest possible number of affected people,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s charities continue to work on the ground to assist with humanitarian efforts in northern Syria, where more than 1,300,000 people have been helped so far. In Turkey, the figure has surpassed 350,000 people.

The remarks come just days after Qatar’s search and rescue team concluded its operations in south Turkey on Saturday, wrapping up a two-week task.

The Lekhwiya team was dispatched shortly after the quakes hit Turkey and Syria on 6 February, per directives by Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to search for victims trapped under the rubble.

Qatar-US relations

Qatar and US relations are seen as one of the major strategic partnerships in the region and Doha is the home of Al Udeid Air Base, the largest US military base in the Middle East.

The US officially designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally of the US on 10 March. This decision was followed by the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to Washington in January 2022.

Qatar has had various mediation roles with few sticking points in the region, especially with regards to maintaining a communication portal between Tehran and Washington.

As of recent, Qatar along with the United Kingdom are mediating indirect talks between Iran and the US over a possible prisoner exchange. The anonymous sources stated that the potential exchange aims to release American citizens imprisoned in Tehran. However, while there has been progress in the talks, prospects for a final agreement remain unclear.

Heavyweight mediator Qatar also stepped in last year by hosting a round of talks between the parties. However, those talks yielded no results, and both Iran and the US continued to exchange blame over their willingness to return to the accord.

Qatar, which has long called for the nuclear deal’s revival, has appeared to break the latest stalemate in talks by holding numerous discussions with Tehran and Washington.

Last month, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran, where the former delivered a message from parties involved in the nuclear talks.

Separately, in 2021, Doha spotlighted its reliability as a strategic ally to the US by evacuating tens of thousands of Afghans from Kabul, facilitating history’s largest airlift to help both refugees and US citizens flee Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover.

The Gulf state evacuated more than 70,000 Afghans and foreigners from the country and served as a prominent mediator between the Taliban-led government and the Biden administration.

The two countries also signed an agreement in 2021 during the Strategic Dialogue that allowed Doha to represent Washington’s interest in Afghanistan.

Source : Doha News