UAE offers aid to Syrian refugees

Abu Dhabi works with Amman and the United Nations to assist victims of the Syrian Civil War
The Community By The Community report
Published on July 7, 2014
Women and children walking in the Zaatari Refugee Camp, located near Mafraq, Jordan. Opened in July, 2012, the camp holds upwards of 20,000 refugees from the civil war inside Syria. International Orthodox Christian Charities and other members of the ACT Alliance are active in the camp providing essential items and services.

Since the start of the Syrian Civil War, Jordan has been home to more than 600,000 refugees. These refugees live in camps across the country funded through international humanitarian aid.

At the forefront of this effort is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a United Nations agency dedicated to international aid for refugees all across the globe. Backing up the UNHCR, governments from around the world provide financial support to these camps. A significant amount of this funding is provided by the GCC member states, particularly the UAE.

In July 2014, the UAE and UNHCR formalised two agreements pledging nearly $5 million (Dh 18.36 million) in aid to the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps in Jordan. According to the UAE Ministry of International Cooperation and Development, $3 million (Dh 11 million) will be used to improve water, sanitation and hygiene, while the remaining $2 million (Dh 7.35 million) will be used to improve health amongst refugees.

The health funding is scheduled to run through the end of 2014, while the water, sanitation and hygiene ones will run until April 2015. This donation gives the UNHCR greater strength to carry out essential services to people living in the camps and will affect approximately 115,000 refugees.

Since opening in 2012, Zaatari camp in northern Jordan has provided protection and services to over 400,000 refugees. Due to its proximity to the Syrian border, as well as the rapid influx of refugees into Jordan, the camp is quickly becoming a permanent settlement. The current population estimate of Zaatari is 81,000, while the total land area is 3.3 square km. The population continues to increase on a daily basis and the UAE government’s contribution is expected to relieve some of the burden placed on the UNHCR and other countries involved in providing basic aid.

In addition to federal funding, H.E. Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Minister for International Cooperation and Development and wife of H.H. Shaikh Sultan III bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi , Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, launched an initiative dubbed the ‘Big Heart Campaign’ last year to encourage private donations to support refugees. The campaign has raised more than $14.5 million (Dh 53.26 million) since its inception, and has enabled Zaatari to erect an onsite medical clinic. The donations have also been used to provide food, clothing and other medical aid to camp residents.

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