Screen grab of the telethon on Dubai TV yesterday. Image Credit: Javed Nawab/Gulf News

Dubai: A telethon organised for Syrian refugees reeling from the effects of Snowstorm Huda witnessed an outpouring of generosity and support on Friday.

The telethon, scheduled to be broadcast from 2pm to 6pm, was extended by an hour to accommodate donors.

By the end of the telethon, Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) had raised Dh150 million for the Syrian refugees.

ERC also received a large quantity of winter supplies, including thermal blankets, warm clothing and boots at booths it had set up in 20 locations around the UAE.

Residents, organisations and corporations came together to support the telethon organised as part of the ‘UAE Compassion’ (Tarahamu) campaign launched on Tuesday under the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Apart from the ERC, the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation and the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charity and Humanitarian Establishment are the forefront of the campaign.

The telethon was being broadcasted by Dubai TV, Abu Dhabi TV, and other TV stations in the country.

Mohammad Abdullah Al Haj Al Zarouni, Head of ERC’s Dubai branch, told Gulf News that generosity overflowed yesterday. Many residents from different nationalities, including children, donated at ERC booths.

Speaking from an ERC booth at Mirdif City Centre, Al Zarouni said: “The booth has been visited by hundreds of people. We have collected around Dh3.5 million from this booth alone. Adding the earlier donations, we have received Dh40 million. We are expecting more donations in the next three days. Hopefully, the donations to this campaign will reach more than Dh200 million.”

Al Zarouni added that the biggest donation made was by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, who donated Dh20 million during the telethon.

Other significant donations which poured in during the telethon were made by the Dubai Islamic Humanitarian Foundation, which donated Dh10 million and the Khalifa Humanitarian Foundation, which donated Dh10 million.

Several government institutions, foundations, and also some private companies also donated millions to the cause.

Al Zarouni said that the snowstorm that hit the Levant this year made life in refugee camps even more challenging for people living in makeshift tents in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but early assistance by several aid agencies had eased the situation.

“Shipments of aid materials started before the storm hit the camps. Three planes have already flown to different camps and there are also other winter supplies being bought from local markets to be distributed to the camps,” he said.

Al Zarouni noted that donations made in cash are always better because the relief materials can be purchased from the local markets instead of going through logistics.

Each charity organisation involved in the campaign is covering a specific refugee camp, he said, and a plane will be flying tomorrow from Abu Dhabi to ship other materials to the refugees battling the harsh conditions.

According to UN figures on January 5, Jordan hosts nearly 620,000 registered Syrian refugees, while there are some 1.1 million registered in Lebanon. There are also 1.65 million in Turkey, 228,000 in Iraq, and 137,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt.

There are also some other 9,000 families who need the assistance, but don’t get it because of the lack of funds.