Sharjah: With the bitterly cold winter of northern Iraq approaching, the Big Heart Campaign has announced a $2 million (Dh7.34 million) donation for life-saving shelter.

The donation was presented on behalf of the campaign’s donors by the patron, Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. Shaikha Jawaher is the UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children. This donation will put roofs over the heads of 600 families, or about 3,500 beneficiaries.

This will be the first taste of privacy and dignity for families who have been forced to share a single tent with several other families. Over 60,000 new Syrian refugees have crossed into Iraq in the past two months alone, bringing the total to over 220,000. With the cataclysmic tragedy in Syria claiming over 100,000 lives, the flood of refugees pouring into Iraq has forced the refugee camps to exceed over 300 per cent of their capacity.

Domiz Camp, which was built for 15,000 refugees, now accommodates 45,000. Almost overnight, a dusty field has mushroomed into the refugee city of Kawergosk, with a population of 12,000 in just a month.

The UNHCR is working day and night, and since mid-August has distributed over 5,000 family tents which more than 30,000 refugees now call home. However, with very little food, water, health care and washing facilities, the camps are a ticking time bomb which only more donations can defuse. This makes the Big Heart Campaign’s $2 million such a lifesaver, as the UNHCR will now be able to expand the campsites to serve 1,200 families.