The head of the UN refugee agency in the UAE has paid tribute to the country’s humanitarian relief efforts since its formation in 1971.

Toby Harward said that recent efforts to alleviate suffering in conflict-ravaged South Sudan and famine-hit Somalia proved the commitment of the UAE’s global aid efforts.

The comments came in a wide-ranging interview with state news agency Wam and also touched on the turmoil in Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

Mr Harward pointed to the presence in Dubai of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees global stockpile warehouses as a clear example of the UAE’s assistance efforts. Established in 2003 at International Humanitarian City, they are the world’s largest and account for 50 per cent of the body’s global capacity, he said.

“The presence of the warehouses in a strategic city such as Dubai enables us to reach sea and airports, which facilitates our response to various crises and emergencies around the world in less than 72 hours. The warehouse contains essential relief items to help more than 200,000 people,” said Mr Harward, head of the UNHCR office in the UAE.

“In 2016 alone, 21 emergency shipments were sent from Dubai to Tanzania, Yemen, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and other countries,” he added, noting that one of the most remarkable contributions so far this year was the provision of assistance to more than 100,000 refugees fleeing violence in South Sudan to Uganda.

Princess Haya financed a shipment of tents, blankets and mobile kitchens worth more than Dh1.5 million, while in May, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, loaned a Boeing 747B aircraft to fly aid to the region.