updated 5/2/2006 4:30:18 PM ET 2006-05-02T20:30:18

The oil-rich Persian Gulf nation Qatar has decided on the distribution of about $60 million of a $100 million gift announced last September for victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The beneficiaries include $22 million for Habitat for Humanity to build 293 homes in the three states; $12.5 million to expand the facilities of Xavier University’s college of pharmacy; $10 million for scholarships at Tulane University for students who are Katrina victims; $5 million for scholarships for Katrina victims at Xavier University; and $3.3 million for a student relief fund at Louisiana State University.

Also, according to Mike Holtzman, a spokesman for the Qatar embassy, $5 million will be used to establish a Qatar Cares fund at Chidren’s hospital in New Orleans; another $351,651 for repair and renovation of clinics at the hospital; and $3 million for the March of Dimes to purchase and equip vans.

Of the Habitat homes, 153 are to be built in Louisiana, 107 in Mississippi and 33 in Alabama.

Largest gift ever for Children’s Hospital
Brian Landry, vice president for marketing at Children’s Hospital, the only full-service pediatric hospital in Louisiana, said the $5 million contribution was the largest gift ever received by the hospital.

“It is our duty to help people who were hurt,” said Nasser Bin Hamad al-Khalifa, Qatar’s ambassador to the United States. “Today’s globalization is making this one world and if any tragedy takes place we are all aware of it.”

“The key objective was to identify those most in need and to provide assistance as directly as possible with minimal administrative expenses,” the embassy said through its spokesman in New York.

The remaining $40 million in pledged contributions from Qatar will be committed in the next several weeks in consultation with an advisory committee, that includes former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, the statement said.

In all, about $126 million in contributions were received by the U.S. government. A little more than $700 million was pledged. Some of the pledges, including $400 million from Kuwait, are awaiting parliamentary approval.

Also, Saudi Arabia, which pledged $100 million, intends to contribute its donations directly to the area without going through the U.S. government, said a U.S. official who could not be identified because she was not assigned to make such announcements.

Among the major donations received were nearly $100 million from the United Arab Emirates; $5 million from Bahrain, $5 million from China; $3.8 million from South Korea; $2 million from Taiwan; $1 million from Brunei; and $1 million from Nigeria.

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