Riyadh: Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) in humanitarian aid for Iraq on Tuesday, to be disbursed through the United Nations to those in need regardless of sect or ethnicity, state media reported.

King Abdullah “has ordered $500 million in humanitarian aid to the brotherly people of Iraq affected by the painful events, including the displaced, regardless of their religion, sect or ethnicity,” a foreign ministry spokesman told the official SPA news agency.

The United Nations says 1.2 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes by violence this year, hundreds of thousands of them by a three-week-old militant offensive that has swept up a swathe of territory north of Baghdad.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has been informed of the Saudi aid, which will be “provided through UN agencies to the Iraqi people only,” the statement said.

Saudi Arabia has deeply strained relations with Iraq’s government.

Riyadh has accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki of creating the conditions for last month’s militant offensive by marginalising its Sunni Arab minority.

Al Maliki in turn has accused the kingdom of supporting “terrorism” in his country.

The International Organisation for Migration has called for the creation of humanitarian corridors, warning that tens of thousands of Iraqis displaced by the violence are beyond the reach of aid agencies.