Pictures of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi with Refugee Children. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The world governments and international organisations should put the worldwide refugee crisis at the top of their agendas, urged Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Shaikha Jawaher described the refugee issue as a global humanitarian challenge that must be collectively solved due to its significant impact on global stability and peace and the future of entire generations of children and young people in countries affected by conflicts and unrest.

“Ensuring a better future for refugees and protecting their human dignity is a process that begins with addressing the root causes of forced displacement and the circumstances which led to it,” she said.

Shaikha Jawaher added: “We are dealing with a humanitarian crisis that requires constant effort and consistent commitment to provide an environment which enables refugees to carry on with their daily lives. We must provide them with the hope that they will soon return to their home countries where they can effectively participate in sustainable development once these conflicts come to an end.”

Shaikha Jawaher’s call coincides with World Refugee Day and The Big Heart Foundation’s anniversary on June 20, commemorating ongoing wars and armed conflicts that have torn countries apart and caused suffering to thousands of people, who have found themselves ousted from their home countries seeking a safe haven for themselves and their children.

According to the UNHCR, 65.6 million people worldwide were forced to leave their homes. Among them nearly 21.3 million are refugees, more than half of whom are under 18 years old. Every day, 34,000 people are forcibly displaced as a result of conflict or persecution, most of them do not have access to basic rights of health care and education, and many of them starve.

Many international charity and humanitarian organisations continue to offer urgent relief assistance to refugees at a time when the displacement crisis has hit rock bottom, and notable efforts have been made by the Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian organisation dedicated to helping people in need worldwide.

Last year saw remarkable achievements made by the foundation, which manifested in an array of humanitarian projects it led in several parts of the world and generous donations it extended to key sectors such as service, health and education. The foundation began 2017 with two unique humanitarian initiatives — the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support in collaboration with UNHCR to recognise distinguished humanitarian contributions by organisations and individuals, and the Girl Child Fund, an initiative to advocate for the rights of girls worldwide. The year ended on a high note with the selection of Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi, chairman of Sharjah Media Council (SMC), as the TBHF Humanitarian Envoy.

The foundation’s humanitarian projects in 2017 included providing health care, hygiene and life-saving aid and unconditional cash grants to refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and Bangladesh.

Mariam Al Hammadi, director of TBHF, said: “The foundation’s array of initiatives in 2017 built further on the success of our charity and humanitarian initiatives in previous years, and at the same time, signalled new beginnings with fresh new projects. Our January 2018 announcement to assist the construction of a school in Pakistan that would accommodate up to 1,000 girls in cooperation with the Girl Child Fund and the Malala Fund bears testimony to this.”