Kuwait Pledges $100 million to Tsunami Relief

Kuwait (search) pledged US$100 million in aid to victims of South Asia's earthquake and tsunamis Sunday, increasing its original pledge 10-fold.

Thirty percent of the US$100 million will be in cash, and the rest will finance infrastructure projects to be built and managed by the government's Kuwait Fund for Economic Development (search), according to the statement.

The oil-rich state made a US$1 million donation on the day of the Dec. 26 catastrophe that has killed more than 150,000 people most of them in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. It doubled it then increased it to US$10 million on Jan. 2.

Oil-rich Gulf states have been steadily increasing their pledges for tsunami victims as the scope of the disaster becomes clearer, and amid accusations at home and abroad that they are doing too little, especially when one of the worst hit regions is mostly Muslim (search) Indonesia. Some in the Gulf have questioned why Western governments and individuals have reacted more generously than Arabs.

Kuwait, like other oil-rich states in the Gulf, largely depends on Asian labor for domestic help, cleaning streets, collecting garbage, construction and nursing.

The Kuwaiti Cabinet also said Sunday that it had delegated the minister of social affairs and labor, Faisal al-Hajji, to launch a national campaign to collect more aid for tsunami-stricken countries.

Muslim charities and non-governmental organizations have in recent days joined the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (search) in soliciting donations. They have placed advertisements in newspapers and organized a charity bazar.