As the world develops and as we grow, our understanding of the world around us grows too. I cannot help but find that there is this intertwined relationship between progress and tragedy. The world, although developing rapidly, seems to be suffering continuously from natural disasters or even worse — from disasters that are man-made. The present time seems to be filled with tragedy, shame and desperation. In times that are fragile like the present, it is only natural that we stand together to help fellow human beings in sufferings.
The UAE has always taken a position of silently pouring hundreds of millions of dollars in making lives better for those afflicted by tragedies. It has not done it to flash the figures to the press and brag about it publicly. It has always done it discreetly. When I wanted to write this piece, I was surprised with the prudence I was surrounded with. The donations and charitable work delivered are not always visible because of the choice made not to announce them. As I researched further, I was given the information, but I was always reminded that the organisations I wanted to discuss did not want to be put in the spotlight. They did this for the betterment of humanity. Every person I spoke to in these organisations believed that each human being deserved to live with dignity. Their task was to ensure that they delivered living conditions that allowed just that in the areas they served. I must say I felt very proud.
It has been more than two years since the conflict started in Syria and it continues to deteriorate. Every Syrian has been affected by the desperate situation. Many have experienced intense and unbearable situations that have led them to flee and take refuge in neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. The UAE being a leader in providing aid has lent a helping hand to the efforts to alleviate pain and the sufferings of the victims.
There were several organisations from the UAE that were involved in efforts to ease the sufferings of the Syrian people. The robust planning and coordination between several UAE-based organisations has resulted in highly recognised and comprehensive relief services that are truly world class. The integrated planning ensured the delivery of relief items to the refugees in different areas, including the UAE camp in Jordan and beyond. Parcels of food, medicine, blankets, clothes and health kits were sent over to those desperately in need. The joint strategic effort between the Emirati organisations is impressive. It shows the clear and united vision towards a great cause — saving the lives of Syrians.
The UAE camp is capable of hosting 25,000 Syrian refugees, providing them with proper housing. The camps provide meals that are being delivered to every person. A clinic has also been set up to provide necessary medical services. A school with a capacity of 4,000 students, working double shifts, has been built to help children learn during these troubled times. A mosque was also built to help keep spirits high with continuous prayers, hoping these will lift the sufferings of those living in the conflict zones within Syrian borders. The UAE camp has helped preserve the dignities of many Syrian refugees and provided them with shelter.
The UAE has established a true community in its camp at Merejeeb Al Fohood on the Jordanian border with outstanding infrastructure and reliable aid processes. The uniqueness of the camp is the community that it has created. Unlike any other relief camp in any part of the world, the UAE camp has created a system that reflects one of the true values that the UAE stands for — sustainability. When we talk about preserving dignity we are not just talking about ensuring that the refugees are protected from the humiliation of not having proper shelter, but also the fact that they are provided with adequate means of life. Every family in the camp is provided with tools to work. Each individual is assessed thoroughly; then is tasked with a job within his or her capability to deliver in the camp. This allows them to be able to provide for their families and receive a pay cheque on completion of their services. There are jobs for cleaning the streets of the camp, teaching in the local school or working at the barbershop to name a few. Giving the refugees a job helps build their self-esteem and makes them feel worthy, thereby preserving their dignity.
The UAE continues to preserve the dignities of thousands around the world. Its pioneering role is not just felt at the camp in Jordan, but in many other areas of the world. It has a clear footprint in the underprivileged areas of Myanmar, Somalia, Mali, Thailand, Kenya, China and Pakistan among many other countries. It may have been unnoticed by many who have the luxuries of a roof above their heads, food on their tables, security in their surroundings and a warm bed to sleep in at night. But remember that many out there do not have these luxuries and so the UAE is helping to provide them with these.
The UAE has always been guided by the principles of neutrality and independence when helping other nations in need during and in the aftermath of emergencies and disasters. It has never been its policy to interfere with the internal issues of governments or their people. Yet, it has always tried to make sure that the transitions are as bearable as possible for people from a humanitarian point of view.
In times of crisis and hardship, there should be solidarity between human beings. The UAE continues to inject money to try to save lives while some others may be doing it to serve their hidden agendas that results in the killing of more innocent civilians. It is a real dilemma. I truly do not understand how anyone can bear the sight of children and women covered in blood. I will do my part and urge you all to do yours — donate to the cause through a reputable charity organisation and maybe, just maybe, soon we will be celebrating the end of this bloodshed.
God bless the UAE and every other nation that is taking steps to preserve the dignity of fellow human beings.
Shaikha Al Maskari is an Emirati writer from Abu Dhabi. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/uaeyah