VIENNA, 28th January, 2016 (WAM) — The OPEC Fund for International Development, OFID, today marked 40 years of dedicated support to poverty eradication and socioeconomic development. What started life as a temporary account, the OPEC Special Fund has evolved into an international development finance institution with a total US$19bn in commitments for more than 3,500 operations across 134 countries worldwide.

Reflecting on this milestone, Suleiman J Al-Herbish, Director-General, stated, “OFID’s story is really quite extraordinary. From its modest beginnings, the OFID of 2016 is a fully engaged and highly respected development pioneer, one that is not merely implementing the global development agenda, but shaping it as well. This is an achievement we can all be proud of.”

OFID says it looks back on forty dynamic and challenging years, working in an ever-shifting landscape that has required continuous repositioning to adapt to the changing needs of partner countries. Most recently, OFID added it has taken the global lead in raising awareness of energy poverty as a major hindrance to development. Through its advocacy and work on the ground, OFID has led by example, earning the title, “Champion of Energy Poverty Alleviation.” In this role, OFID helped position energy access within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In line with its commitment to South-South solidarity, OFID has dedicated its 40th Anniversary year to the plight of refugees. This move is intended as a sign of solidarity, both with the people torn from their roots and with OFID’s host city Vienna, which continues to shoulder a disproportionate burden.

Al-Herbish explained, “A new situation is developing that needs urgent attention from all. We cannot abandon helpless refugees who risk their lives to access a better and dignified life elsewhere.”

OFID’s programme of engagement will include advocacy as well as concrete support at local level. OFID has a longstanding cooperation with NGOs that provide assistance, care and shelter to refugees, among them the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Red Cross.

One of the highlights of the anniversary celebrations will be the inauguration on June 2nd of a specially commissioned sculpture. This gift will be presented to the City of Vienna, as a gesture of OFID’s appreciation for enduring and friendly relationship.

WAM/AAMIR/Moran