Sheikha Jawaher
Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi (2nd from R) during a meeting with a UNHCR delegation in Egypt Image Credit: WAM

Cairo: Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, has highlighted the collective global duty to aid refugees, noting that the current realities of the global refugee community are a window into our collective future

“We are passionately committed to alleviating the physical and psychological sufferings of forcibly displaced individuals. While humanitarian initiatives are crucial, they are not enough. What the global refugee community truly needs is sustained and continuous support that is worthy of human dignity and will enable them to enjoy their basic right to safe and stable lives.”

This statement was made by Sheikha Jawaher during a meeting with a UNHCR delegation in Cairo, Egypt, headed by Dr Hanan Hamdan, UNHCR representative in Egypt, and in the presence of Mariam Al Hammadi, director general of TBHF. The meeting was held to brief Sheikha Jawaher on the UNHCR strategies and programmes that are being implemented to assist refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt and neighbouring countries.

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Dr Hamdan lauded Sheikha Jawaher’s humanitarian efforts and their impact on the reality of refugees in the region and the world, noting that the UNHCR was able to assist more than a million refugees through the support received over the past years from TBHF, the Sharjah-based global humanitarian organisation dedicated to helping refugees and those in need worldwide. Dr Hamdan also highlighted that the efforts of Sharjah and Sheikha Jawaher are an inspiration for the world.

Arab refugee’s plight, dignity

Expressing confidence in UNHCR’s efforts and her own keenness to follow up with them to identify the priorities and needs of refugees, Sheikha Jawaher remarked: “We are all deeply affected by what is happening today in the Arab region; the plight of any Arab refugee is our plight, and their dignity is our dignity. Therefore, we look forward to employing sustainable solutions that go beyond crisis management”.

“Transforming the fate of refugees can no longer be an afterthought. In light of the current regional and global situation, we must address this as a top priority on the global developmental agenda. It is impossible to move forward without finding effective and permanent solutions that will enable millions of displaced people a real opportunity to a life of dignity where they will be the architects of their own destiny. The only way we can get to this point is if we fully recognise and weed out the underlying factors at play that lead to people being driven out of their homes and their countries”, the TBHF Chairperson strongly opined.

Sheikha Jawaher continued: “Our stance on refugees is in fact a test of our humanity and value systems. Striving to provide them with life’s essentials and opportunities for security and stability are not just the responsibility of humanitarian organisations — as some believe — but it is a collective global duty we all need to perform, be it individuals or governmental institutions, and or the entire international community”.

Never too late

Sheikha Jawaher noted that it is never too late for charity and to extend humanitarian support. It is the only type of work that is always timely, always meaningful — whether during a crisis or after. Its value extends beyond the targeted groups to leave a positive impact on the wider global community.

She explained: “When we make humanitarian efforts, we not only benefit the needy, refugees, or the sick, but we also provide our children and communities with inspirational models to follow. We need our humanity more than ever, especially in the face of what we are witnessing in the region.”

Supporting students

During the visit, Sheikha Jawaher met with several refugee students from Sudan, Iraq, Yemen and Eritrea, studying in Egyptian universities. She was briefed on their conditions and challenges, and reaffirmed commitment to stand by them and provide solutions to facilitate employment opportunities for them by easing their integration into the labour market in accordance with Egyptian laws and regulations.

Sheikha Jawaher was also briefed on the situation of Sudanese refugees in Egypt and the other countries they fled to. The UNHCR delegation presented an overview of their needs and challenges in other host nations. The delegation emphasised that education for children and youth is a priority for Sudanese refugees in the countries they are seeking asylum in even though they lack access to a roof over their heads and other basic amenities.