Sharjah: The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global charity, has begun receiving nominations for the fifth edition of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA), taking place in 2021.
Nominations for the Dh500,000 award should be received prior to October 31 to be eligible. The award is organised under the patronage and support of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children.
The award has been held annually since 2017 in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). It targets local humanitarian organisations in Asia and Africa who have offered outstanding services to refugees, which have had a positive and sustainable impact on their lives. It also focuses on services that are able to provide access to food, healthcare and education.
SIARA is awarded to legally registered non-profit organisations that are working on social and humanitarian programmes and activities for a minimum of one year prior to nomination. Organisations can choose to self-nominate or be nominated by other individuals or organisations.
The nominees are evaluated based on the impact of their work in bringing about tangible benefits within refugee communities. Other important criteria are the level of innovative practices that boost overall sustainability of programmes and project activities, gender sensitivity in the planning and implementation of these projects, and demonstrable ability to address humanitarian gaps, especially in emergency situations.
The award strategically addresses the gaps in achieving coherent humanitarian action especially in light of the significant increase in refugee populations
Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, pointed out that humanitarian endeavours require more creativity to improve capacities and address the immediate and longer-term needs of refugees in host countries. “The award strategically addresses the gaps in achieving coherent humanitarian action especially in light of the significant increase in refugee populations and its impact on refugee and host communities alike,” she said.
Al Hammadi noted that previous editions of SIARA targeted sectors like healthcare, education, community and vocational training, as well as emotional development and nurturing of talents. “The forthcoming edition will expand to include new creative sectors to stimulate the performance of individuals and organisation within the humanitarian arena.”
Recognising previous humanitarian efforts
In its fourth edition, SIARA received 242 nominations from 52 countries. Of these, 49 per cent of the nominations were from Africa, 44 per cent from Asia, 5 per cent from Europe and 2 per cent from other countries.
Jordan topped the nomination list with 24 entries, followed by Kenya with 19, Uganda with 18, and Nigeria with 17 entries. The USA and Cameroon submitted 11 nominations each, followed by Pakistan with 10 nominations. The 2019 edition saw TBHF receive between four to eight nominations from the UK, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Afghanistan, Turkey, and South Africa. The award money is a special contribution by TBHF and does not represent any share of the donations made to the foundation.