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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pope gives top job to abortion hardliner

Cardinal Marc Ouellet has said terminations are wrong even in rape cases


The pope handed one of the most powerful jobs in the Vatican to a cardinal who said recently that abortion was wrong, even in cases of rape.
The reshuffle also saw a senior prelate moved from the institution that helps frame the Catholic church's "pro-life" doctrines after he appeared to question the announcement by another archbishop that the mother of a child rape victim had removed herself from the church by arranging for her daughter to terminate her pregnancy.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella was transferred to head a new department charged with stemming the advance of secularisation, particularly in Europe.
It is the appointment of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, however, that is likely to arouse most controversy. As prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Ouellet, until now the archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada, will be responsible for drawing up shortlists from which the pope decides who is to get a bishop's mitre.
The prefecture is often regarded as the third most important job in the Vatican administration since its incumbent can prevent even the most gifted priest from rising to a position of leadership in the church. Ouellet has in the past been touted as a successor to Benedict.
This year, Ouellet provoked what the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation termed a "firestorm of criticism" when he told an anti-abortion conference in Quebec City that terminating a pregnancy was a "moral crime" even in rape cases. He said he understood that a sexually assaulted woman should be helped and her attacker held accountable. "But there is already a victim," he said. "Must there be another one?"
Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Québécois, said she was outraged by Ouellet's views and accused him of trying to get abortion recriminalised – a claim a spokesperson for the archdiocese denied.
Four days after he made his remarks, the Quebec national assembly passed a unanimous resolution affirming women's right to free and accessible abortion.
Last year, there was worldwide controversy when Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife in Brazil said the mother of a nine-year-old girl who had been repeatedly raped by her stepfather had excommunicated herself from the Catholic church.
In response, in an article published on the front page of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's official newspaper, Fisichella wrote: "Before giving thought to excommunication, it was necessary and urgent to safeguard the innocent life of this girl".
He was replaced as president of the Pontifical Academy for Life by a Spanish prelate close to the conservative Opus Dei. Fisichella's appointment to head the nascent Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation is not a demotion, but it marked the second time in a week that the pope sent a clear signal that he would not tolerate public dissent.
On Monday, the Vatican announced that the archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, had come to Rome to explain himself to the pontiff after apparently questioning priestly celibacy and accusing a fellow cardinal of mishandling a prominent sex abuse scandal.

Somali president leads drive against hard-liners on the front line


(CNN) -- Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed joined his troops on the front line Wednesday to fight hard-line anti-government Islamists, a presidential aide told a journalist in Mogadishu.
"The president is on the front line leading the fight against Al Shabaab and he is armed with an AK-47," said the aide, who declined to be named.
The aide said that the president is accompanied by government soldiers and forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia.
The chief of Somali Police, Gen. Ali Mohamed Hassan, told reporters that the drive led by the president marks the beginning of a larger operation against Al Shabaab.
Ahmed has a long history of military leadership that has included fighting on front lines. Before he became president in 2009, he led an Islamist movement that took control of the capital in June 2006. After the international community -- led by Ethiopian forces -- ran him from power late that year, he began to cooperate with those same international powers.
He became president of a U.N.-backed unity government, which led the country's parliament to appoint him president.
Also Wednesday, heavy shelling rocked the capital during the evening, killing at least five people and wounding at least eight, according to ambulance service spokesman Ali Musa. The shelling started after clashes erupted in two parts of the city.
Ahlu Sunna fighters -- a Sufi militia aligned with the government -- fought fiercely against al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab near Bakara market while government forces and Al Shabaab clashed in the north.

Chung says will take responsibility for Sejong plan

Prime Minister Chung Un-chan, who has spearheaded the move to redress the Sejong administrative city project, said Wednesday that he would take complete responsibility for the failure to gain parliamentary approval for the revision. 

The National Assembly on Tuesday voted down the revision bill, which seeks to scrap the 2005 plan to relocate two-thirds of administration departments to a town in South Chungcheong Province and instead develop it into a center for education, scientific research and high-tech businesses.

“As the one in charge of designing the revision plan, I will take the entire responsibility for the failure” to get the Assembly passage, Chung said in a press conference, stressing that the nation should not be further divided over the issue.

“No matter how good the policy is, it is due to the lack of my ability to enable people to appropriately understand (the revision) and persuade those against it until the end. It is regrettable, but I respect the parliamentary decision”.

He did not elaborate on whether he would resign. 

Chung, however, pointed out that Tuesday’s decision will be recorded in history “as a representative case where political interests outweighed the national interests”.

“I keenly realized that even a rightful thing could not materialize if one fails to gain majority support from citizens and climb over the barrier of the real politics. I am afraid about how our history and the future generations will evaluate the decision,” he said. 

According to the original plan, “a president will be in Seoul while the prime minister and other ministers will be in the Chungcheong region. When an emergency case occurs, the decision-making process will be slower, leading to a slower response to it. My conscience did not allow me to just sit idly when I knew such clear problems”.

Ever since the former Seoul National University president asserted the need for the revision immediately after he was tapped as prime minister in September last year, fierce wrangling over the Sejong City conundrum persisted among political circles.

Despite strong objections from lawmakers and a faction in the ruling Grand National Party, the Lee Myung-bak administration has pushed for the revision, contending that the plan would cause sizable inefficiency in government operations by dispersing administrative organizations to the province, some 120 kilometers south of Seoul.

Meanwhile, a new dispute over the Sejong City issue has surfaced in the GNP, revealing persistent factional discord once again.

GNP lawmakers loyal to former chairwoman Park Geun-hye said that the original plan itself includes “plus alpha,” a measure to make the city self-sufficient, arguing that it is a matter of the will on the part of the government to make the establishment of the city successful. 

However, another group loyal to Lee that the “plus alpha” in the plan is only superficial, arguing that other measures such as tax benefits to attract businesses should be introduced to supplement the plan. 

Rep. Kim Moo-sung, the GNP floor leader, called on his party lawmakers to refrain from taking about the “plus alpha” to prevent any further factional division.

“As the Sejong City issue came to a conclusion, we should put an end to the dispute over it,” said Kim during a meeting of senior party members. “For party unity, it is good for us not to talk about the ‘plus alpha’ matter for the time being”.

In the revision bill, there were the government’s promises of the plus alpha, including the designation of the international science and business belt and other tax incentives.

In response to some ruling party lawmakers arguing that the plus alpha promised in the revision bill will disappear, the main opposition party said it was only an act of “blackmailing” citizens.

“President Lee should carry out the plan as it is as quickly as possible without having any lingering feelings (over the revision bill),” said DP leader Chung Sye-kyun during a
meeting of senior party members. 

'Sea monster' whale fossil unearthed

Researchers have discovered the fossilised remains of an ancient whale with huge, fearsome teeth.
Writing in the journal Nature, the scientists have dubbed the 12 million-year-old creature "Leviathan".
It is thought to have been more than 17m long, and might have engaged in fierce battles with other giant sea creatures from the time.
Leviathan was much like the modern sperm whale in terms of size and appearance.
But that is where the similarity ends. While the sperm whale is a relatively passive animal, sucking in squid from the depths of the ocean, Leviathan was an aggressive predator.
According to Dr Christian de Muizon, director of the Natural History Museum in Paris, Leviathan could have hunted out and fed on large sea creatures such as dolphins, seals and even other whales.
"It was a kind of a sea monster," he said.
"And it's interesting to note that at the same time in the same waters was another monster, which was a giant shark about 15m long. It's possible that they might have fought each other".
The researchers speculate that Leviathan was able to feed on very large prey up to 8m long. It would catch the prey in its huge jaws and tear it apart quickly and effectively with its giant teeth.
A 3m-long fossilised skull of the creature was discovered by researchers in southern Peru in 2008. Dr de Muizon's student, Olivier Lambert was among them.
"It was the last day of our field trip when one of our colleagues came and told us that he thought he'd found something very interesting. So we joined him and he showed it to us," he said.
"We immediately saw that it was a very large whale and when we looked closer we saw it was a giant sperm whale with huge teeth".
The teeth were more than twice the length and diameter of those found in modern sperm whales and they were on the upper and lower jaws.
Sperm whales only have teeth on their lower jaw.
Dr Lambert and his colleagues had speculated that such a fierce creature might once have existed on the basis of discoveries of individual teeth.
Now, the discovery of the skull means that the Leviathan is not merely the stuff of myth and legend.
"Finally we found it," said Dr Lambert. " It was a very exciting moment".
The researchers do not know why this ancient whale died out. They speculate that the ecology and environment changed so that the creature had to change its feeding habits.
That may have led to the emergence of today's much gentler sperm whales, with the carnivorous niche filled by killer whales as conditions swung back again.
The authors of the report in Nature, who are all whale experts, are fans of the novel Moby Dick, which involves a ferocious white sperm whale.
So taken are they with the novel that they decided to dedicate their discovery to the author, Herman Melville, and give the creature its full scientific name of Leviathan melvillei.

British authorities to probe suspected Russian spy's link to U.K.

LONDON, July 1 (RIA Novosti) - The British authorities have started an investigation into possible U.K. links of Anna Chapman, one of 11 people in the center of the recent Russian-U.S. spy row, the Evening Standard said.
Ten people were arrested by U.S. law enforcement on Sunday on suspicion of being part of an espionage ring. An 11th suspect was detained on Tuesday in Cyprus, but reports on Wednesday said police on the island were looking for him after he apparently jumped bail.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) confirmed it was looking into Chapman's connections to Britain, but declined to comment on whether it investigated the possibility that she spied against the U.K.
"This is primarily a matter for the US authorities, but of course we will ensure we look into any suggested British links," the paper quoted an FCO spokesman as saying.
Chapman, a 28-year-old entrepreneur, was arrested in Manhattan. According to British media reports, she "spent time working in London and may even have a British ex-husband".
According to the woman's LinkedIn profile, she worked in London between 2003 and 2007.

Iraqis buying tons of U.S. military surplus items

Fencing, fridges, latrines — everything must go before the deadline for troop withdrawal. Some hesitate to acquire the invaders' castoffs, but the price is right

By Liz Sly, Los Angeles Times

On the outskirts of this former insurgent stronghold, Munir Ibrahim Ismail and his family have taken up residence in an American military latrine.

They picked up the trailer full of toilets at a junkyard for about $5,000 — less than it would have cost them to build a real house — and set to work. They tore out the toilet bowls and scrubbed the trailer for days with disinfectant. They ripped off tiles, poured a concrete floor and added a window. They erected a divider to create two rooms and tacked on a concrete kitchen at the back.

Presto! A little piece of the American occupation had become a home.

"It does disgust us that this used to be a toilet for the invaders," said Ismail, 34, who lost his home, as well as two brothers, in the 2004 battle between Marines and insurgents for control of Fallouja. "But we didn't have any other option. It's the best we could afford".

As U.S. troops accelerate their withdrawal from Iraq, the military is offloading thousands of tons of unwanted junk accumulated during seven years in the country by selling it to dealers.

And Iraqis are snapping up the stuff at yard sales, weaving the detritus of America's occupation into the fabric of their daily lives.

A crude wooden hut with "ARMY" stenciled over the door and 16 bunk beds inside — going for $2,000 at one Fallouja yard — might be picked up by a farmer to store grain, said salesman Ali Mahmoud. Others are buying rolls of Hesco wire, used to fortify bases, to erect fences for livestock. Generators and air conditioners are the most sought-after items, and the most profitable for dealers, as Iraqis struggle to cope with hot summer days without electricity.

And then there are the things that GIs buy or bring to ease the daily discomforts of a life far from home. Washing machines, microwaves, satellite dishes, office chairs, a coffee maker and a tattered copy of the Bible lay strewn around another yard on the fringes of the town. A mini-fridge indelibly inscribed with an obscene warning to stay out is for sale for $50.

Only those items that are deemed surplus to American or Iraqi security force requirements are being sold, said Brig. Gen. Gustave Perna, who is in charge of logistics for the U.S. military. They account for a fraction of the vast quantities of equipment being transported out of Iraq, in what U.S. officials are calling their biggest movement of people and machines since World War II.

Much of the withdrawal has already happened, barely noticed by a populace weary of war and more anxious about what comes next than what has gone before. Since troop levels peaked at 166,000 in 2007, about 80,000 have left. An additional 35,000 or so will go in the next two months, in fulfillment of President Obama's pledge to reduce the size of the force to 50,000 by Sept. 1.

Moving the people is easy, commanders say. It's the equipment — 1.7 million items from 405 bases — that has posed the biggest logistical challenge. About 1.1 million pieces have been removed, snaking south out of the country at night on convoys bound for Kuwait.

The pace will accelerate in the coming weeks, as the military dispatches 600,000 more items, including tanks, computers, and radar and surveillance equipment, U.S. officials say.

Some, including Humvees and other military vehicles, are being shipped to Afghanistan to support the war effort there. Most, however, are being sent back to the U.S.

In addition, 500,000 items have been handed over to the government of Iraq for use mainly by the Iraqi security forces, including items such as generators and trailers that would cost more to ship than to leave behind.

Then there's the junk, 40 million pounds of which has been sold to Iraqi dealers, netting the U.S. government about $1 million since the beginning of 2009. More is expected to follow as the military sets its sights on the December 2011 deadline for the departure of all U.S. troops, and the closure of the remaining 94 bases.

Items are showing up for sale in cities across the country, including Fallouja, the town in the western province of Anbar that became emblematic of the ferocity of the Sunni Arab-led insurgency before it was pacified by the revolt of the province's tribesmen against the militant group Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007.

The town's hard-line clergy, who once wielded considerable influence over public opinion, have issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, against ownership of the discarded U.S. goods, deemed "tarnished" by the invaders, said Sheik Abdul Hamid Jumaili, a spokesman for Fallouja's fatwa committee.

Yet in a sign of how times have changed, the ruling does not seem to have had much effect on the booming business of selling America's castoffs.

"Some people use this to haggle with us. They say they hate us for doing this, and ask, 'This item used to belong to the Americans, so why are you being so stingy about the price?'" said salesman Mahmoud, who estimates he's taken in $500,000 on sales of former American property in the last year, at a considerable profit. "But these things are popular because they're cheaper than other items in the market".

Attitudes about buying the stuff seem to vary depending on one's view of the American presence. Shamal Yassin, 37, says he doesn't mind that his Blue Beach Cafe in a town 20 miles west of Fallouja was once an American latrine. (Toilets appear to be among the items the military does not judge necessary to keep)

The cafe is on the shore of Lake Habbaniya, a weekend resort popular with families, and is clearly identifiable as a onetime bathroom by the sign reading "non potable water" beside the door. Inside, he's installed a fridge, a freezer and a stove, and outside a blue-and-yellow-striped awning under which customers can eat, drink and smoke water pipes at plastic tables and chairs.

"It doesn't bother me," said Yassin, a Sunni who fled the sectarian fighting in Baghdad in 2007 and wound up in Anbar, looking to start a new life. He doesn't want the Americans to leave, and predicts chaos when they do.

"I don't blame the Americans for anything. Everything that has gone wrong here, you can blame on Iraqis," he said.

But there are others who find it hard to overcome their distaste for America's leftovers. Day laborer Khamis Ghanem Khalif, 38, bought what is known in military parlance as a wet CHU, a containerized housing unit with a toilet and shower attached, to make a home for himself, his wife and four children. He couldn't afford anything more.

The Western-style lavatory and shower didn't come with plumbing and they sit uselessly in a corner of the living room, an ever-present reminder of what his home used to be. Khalif says he's noticed that people don't like to spend too long inside the 30-foot container, and would rather sit in the yard.

"My wife says she doesn't like to stay inside because it gives her a strange feeling," he said. "When we have guests, after an hour they ask if they can sit outside. They say being here gives them a feeling that they have been taken captive by the Americans".

Nigerian president suspends national soccer team


Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan has suspended the national soccer team from international competition for two years after their dismal performance at the World Cup.
Nigeria came bottom of their group at the tournament in South Africa, losing to Argentina and Greece before drawing with South Korea.
Now president Jonathan has dissolved the Nigerian Football Federation and removed the 'Super Eagles' from the international circuit, meaning sanctions from soccer's governing body, FIFA, could follow.
Nigeria's Sports Minister Ibrahim Isa Bio confirmed the decision in an interview with CNN. He said: "The government has taken a decision we believe is in the interests of Nigeria that we should for now, withdraw from international competition because our football since 1996 seems not to be growing.
"The government spends a lot of money to encourage football in Nigeria and we need to go back to the drawing board the way Ghana did two years ago.
"The president Goodluck Jonathan has endorsed this decision and the Nigerian people are excited about it.
"They are not happy with the performance [in the World Cup] and the Nigerian people believe the right thing to do is start all over again. We have informed FIFA of our intentions".
Earlier, Mr Isa Bio's spokesman, Olukayode Thomas, told CNN: "Nigeria is a sovereign state and has the right to take a decision aimed at improving the nation. It's a decision that was taken by all Nigerians. We can't stand back and watch our football decline because of FIFA rules".
Thomas said an interim body has been established in the wake of the football federation's demise, and that new elections would be held shortly to appoint new officials.
CNN anchor Pedro Pinto said the decision was also based on Nigeria's performance at the African Cup of Nations, as well as their organization of the under-17 World Cup.
FIFA rules prevent governments from interfering in the running of national football federations, and on Wednesday president Sepp Blatter warned France on a similar issue.
FIFA told CNN they had no official information on the matter, but that their "position regarding political interference in football is well known".
Fulham midfielder Dickson Etuhu played every game in Nigeria's World Cup campaign and he told CNN he was stunned by the decision.
"I'm so shocked at the moment I don't know what to say or how to react," he said. "Obviously there's a lot of things that aren't right in Nigerian football, it should be doing a lot better than it is. I don't think banning us is going to help.
"With us coming out of the World Cup the way we did obviously there will be meetings about that because no-one will be happy.
"For me and the other players, no international football for two years is not something we'll be happy with because we all love playing for our country. I don't know how that's going to go down.
"You could say it's a bit extreme banning us for two years but every country has a different way of handling their affairs and we have to respect the decision the president has made".

Lithuania mourns death of first post-independence president

VILNIUS - Former Lithuanian President and Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, one of the country's most famous politicians, passed away this weekend after losing a long battle with cancer.

"We have lost a warm person and a prominent politician who had been at the wheel of state at challenging and difficult stages in the history of Lithuania. The memory of the strong and charismatic personality of the first directly elected President of Lithuania since the restoration of Independence will always stay in the hearts of the people of Lithuania," President Dalia Grybauskaitė said.

The former president died on June 26 in his Vilnius home at the age of 77. He had been undergoing treatment for prostate and lymphatic cancer.

Brazauskas was elected head of the Lithuanian Communist Party in 1988 with the support of the Lithuanian national liberation movement, Sąjūdis. Under his leadership, in 1989 the Communist Party of Lithuania broke away from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

In February 1993, Brazauskas was elected president of Lithuania with 60 percent of the vote.

As head of state, he launched Lithuania's bid to join NATO and the European Union.

He unexpectedly opted not to seek re-election in 1998, and quit politics. In 2001 he returned to lead the Social Democrats and was soon made prime minister, a position he held until resigning in 2006.

UAE Launches First Annual Report on Foreign Aid

ABU DHABI - Millions of less fortunate people in more than 90 countries have benefited from the United Arab Emirates’ generous humanitarian and development projects in 2009, estimated at AED 8.93 billion (US$ 2.43), reveals the UAE’s first annual report on foreign aid, which was recently released by the UAE government.

UAE’s first annual report on foreign aid, “UAE Foreign Aid - 2009”, was officially launched by the UAE Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid (OCFA) on 30 June under the patronage and in the presence of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and in the presence of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region and President of OCFA.
The report launch was attended by representatives of UAE government entities and local donor organizations, in addition to several foreign government officials, ambassadors and representatives of international aid agencies.
Content with the significant levels of the UAE’s humanitarian and development assistance to governments and citizens around the world in 2009, recorded in the country’s first annual report on foreign aid, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said, “In a year that witnessed a global financial crisis that forced major donor countries to cut down their aid, the UAE has continued to play its role as an important member of the international community, delivering much needed humanitarian and development aid to those in need around the world. This is an achievement that would not have been possible without the wise leadership of His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“The UAE’s foreign aid since 1971 is currently estimated at over AED163 billion (US$ 38 billion). This demonstrates the generous giving traditions that are well established in our country and deeply rooted in Islam and the Arab culture,” said His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
His Highness also added that the UAE has enthusiastically endorsed global efforts to combat poverty and illiteracy, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, set by the United Nations, and has shown its commitment to helping other countries to achieve them. Almost 95% of the UAE’s aid given in 2009 was in the form of grants with no debts incurred by the recipient countries, and it has assisted them to tackle poverty, improve health care and widen access to education.
Marking the launch of the report, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum honoured 21 donor organizations, lauding their contributions in 2009. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) was the largest UAE donor, contributing or administering AED 4.95 billion in grants and loans, or more than half of total aid, followed by the government which gave AED 3.06 billion.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of OCFA, said, “The launch of this report marks an important achievement for the UAE government which, under the leadership of His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Nahyan, President of the UAE, aims to raise the reporting standards of the foreign aid sector and cultivate more thorough documentation of aid flows which will help identify challenges and gaps. The outcome of this report, we hope, will include improved accountability and more efficient planning and delivery of foreign aid in the future, based on better coordination between donor organizations, the government, and key humanitarian and charitable players in the UAE”.
“The UAE’s first annual report on foreign aid is the result of collaboration between OCFA, UAE donor organizations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to provide accurate record of the foreign aid flows. The release of the report is an important achievement by the government in its efforts to build a comprehensive, transparent and accurate picture of the levels of foreign aid provided by the UAE,” His Highness Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan added.
The President of OCFA also noted that the report gives a breakdown of the UAE’s aid flows in 2009 by country, region of operation and sector of activity. “It indicates that aid from the UAE Government’s aid forms 90% of the total foreign aid, estimated at AED 8.93 billion (US$ 2.43), and with a provisional figure for 2009 Gross National Income (GNI) of AED 926 billion, total UAE foreign aid amounts to almost one percent of GNI”.
His Excellency Hazza Mohammed Falah Al Qahtani, OCFA Director General, said “The report’s findings confirm the UAE as an important global donor. It provides a comprehensive and accurate picture of the UAE’s foreign aid in 2009, and shows that UAE donors contributed over AED 700 million in commodity aid to help mitigate the effects of the food crisis and provide essential food supplies to the victims of emergencies. They also committed more than AED 830 million for health programs, contributing to the MDGs to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Additionally, UAE donors committed over AED 340 million in education-related project, making a major contribution towards the MDG to “achieve universal primary education.
According to the report, Asia received 87 percent of total funds, while ten percent of total funds went to Africa. The remainder was divided between Europe, the Americas, Oceania and multilateral organizations. The single biggest recipient of aid was Yemen, where renewed conflict and chronic poverty led to a dramatic increase in humanitarian needs in 2009, prompting UAE donors to contribute a total of AED 2.84 billion in assistance. Other major recipients of the UAE’s aid included Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories. UAE’s aid also included providing emergency food and medical aid after floods in the Philippines, and working on major infrastructure and construction projects in Africa.
The report represents the first published product of OCFA’s efforts to bring UAE donors together in order to document UAE foreign aid. Prior to the establishment of OCFA in 2008 by UAE Cabinet decree, there has been no central body in the UAE to track and document the funds coming from the country as a whole.
OCFA was set up by UAE Cabinet decree no. 36 for the year 2008 and has been operational since early 2009 to help UAE foreign aid donors improve delivery of humanitarian and development programmes worldwide. With Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, presiding as the office’s President, OCFA is assessing foreign aid needs; providing appropriate training programmes and knowledge transfers; and building and strengthening ties between the UAE and the international aid community by providing multiple platforms that bring international and local aid organizations together.