Qatar Grants Millions in Aid to New Orleans
- Qatar Grants Millions in Aid to New Orleans
By Stephanie Strom
The New York Times
Tuesday 02 May 2006
The nation of Qatar plans to announce today roughly $60 million in
grants to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina, including $17.5
million to Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically black
Catholic university in the United States.
Other beneficiaries are Tulane University, Children's Hospital in
New Orleans, Habitat for Humanity, Louisiana State University and the
March of Dimes.
Nasser Bin Hamad M. al-Khalifa, Qatar's ambassador to the United
States, said the remainder of the $100 million his country had pledged
would be assigned in the coming months.
"Hurricane Katrina was so devastating that everyone in Qatar and
the rest of the world felt a responsibility to really act," Mr.
Khalifa said. More than 50 countries donated money, expertise and
materials, according to a tally by Foreign Policy, a magazine
published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Qatar was one of several Persian Gulf nations to donate tens of
millions of dollars. Saudi Arabia, for instance, gave more than $100
million, and the United Arab Emirates pledged $100 million.
Poor nations also donated. Less than a year after the Indian Ocean
tsunami engulfed it, Sri Lanka gave $25,000 to the American Red Cross.
Bangladesh gave $1 million, Cyprus $50,000, Ghana $15,000 and the
Dominican Republic $50,000.
European countries tended to offer expertise, supplies and
equipment instead of money. Denmark, for example, donated blankets,
water purification units and first aid kits.
Many donor countries funneled their gifts through the State
Department or other government agencies. The Federal Emergency
Management Agency, for instance, used $66 million of foreign
assistance to underwrite Katrina Aid Today, a consortium of nine
religion-based and secular relief organizations led by the United
Methodist Committee on Relief that is using the money to offer case
management services to 100,000 families for two years.
The Department of Education now controls $60 million donated by
foreign governments that it said it would disburse to organizations to
rebuild classrooms and libraries, buy books and maybe even pay
"We want to give the money where it will have the greatest impact
so the foreign governments can see how their funds are being used,"
said Valerie Smith, an Education Department spokeswoman.
Countries also gave money to the American Red Cross and to the
Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, the charity set up by former Presidents
George Bush and Bill Clinton.
Qatar elected to distribute its money directly, rather than rely
on an intermediary.
Ambassador Khalifa said the country wanted to insure transparency
"Our past experience is that while you can give to any
organization or to a government," he said, "you have no control over
the money and then you discover the people most affected have not
To identify projects Qatar might want to support, the ambassador
and his representatives talked to relief organizations, educators,
members of Congress and other experts, and some embassy staff members
traveled to the region.
Mr. Khalifa also drafted former Secretary of State James A. Baker;
Laura D'Andrea Tyson, dean of the business school at the University of
California, Berkeley, and a former economic adviser to President
Clinton; Lee Raymond, former chief executive of the Exxon Mobil
Corporation; and John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown
University, to serve as an advisory board.
Qatar is giving Xavier, which is in New Orleans, $12.5 million to
add 60,000 square feet to its College of Pharmacy so it can increase
enrollment. The gift has additional benefits, the ambassador said,
because it will provide construction jobs and because students from
the university work in community clinics.
Xavier will also get $5 million for scholarships for students
affected by the disaster.
"It's going to allow us to help those students to finish their
educations," said Norman C. Francis, Xavier's president. "That's
important because Xavier is the No. 1 producer of African-American
graduates in the natural sciences, and those students then go on to
get admitted to medical school."
Tulane will receive $10 million to help undergraduate students
from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who were affected by Hurricane
Katrina, as well as students from those states entering the university
"The money will follow those students all the way through to
graduation," said Scott S. Cowen, the university's president. "We
anticipate over four years it will support roughly 300 students."
Qatar's $5.3 million gift was the biggest Children's Hospital has
ever received, said Steve Worley, its president. The hospital will use
$5 million to establish the Qatar Cares Fund, which it will use to
underwrite medical care for needy children whose families were
affected by the hurricane. The remaining $351,000 will go toward
restoring the two of the hospital's five primary care clinics that
were left standing after the storm.
"It's hard to know how to express our gratitude," Mr. Worley said.
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