Sharjah-based humanitarian organisation The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) recently visited Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya to assess the challenges facing refugees.

The camp, located in Kenya’s north western Turkana County, is home to 192,301 residents of 22 nationalities who have fled war and instability in search of food, security, shelter, health care, education, and livelihood.

The delegation was led by Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi, chairperson of Sharjah Media Council (SMC) and TBHF Humanitarian Envoy, and comprised of top Emirati officials, CEOs and business leaders.

Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad said: “Almost 40 per cent of Kenya’s refugees and asylum seekers reside in Kakuma, and their humanitarian needs continue to rise due to the continued influx from the two main refugee producing countries of Somalia and South Sudan.”

He added: “Sharjah’s leadership as well as its public and private institutions are deeply committed to supporting refugees and vulnerable populations around the world, and keen to respond strategically to their most pressing humanitarian needs. Doing good is the essence of Emirati history and culture. It is the basis of the relationship between all of UAE’s institutions and individuals”.

The field visit was the third of its kind by TBHF, which it has been making to nations that require urgent humanitarian support. Led by TBHF, these delegations comprise of officials from Sharjah’s public and private sectors, who have been to Bangladesh twice before and now to Kenya.

According to UNHCR, Kenya will continue to be among the top refugee hosting countries in Africa, with 25 per cent being women and children and 63 percent aged below 18 coming in from South Sudan.

The TBHF delegation toured the Angelina Jolie Primary School, one of the 26 primary schools at the camp site, established by UNHCR’s Special Envoy Angelina Jolie in 2002 to provide a safe learning environment to refugee girls. The school educates 250 female students from grades five to eight.

TBHF director Mariam Al Hamadi said: “This visit is a reflection of Sharjah’s and the UAE’s undulating commitment to learn more about the on ground realities of humanitarian conditions in some of the world’s biggest refugee settlements, to be able to come up with targeted plans and strategies for projects, which will tackle their daily challenges more effectively and comprehensively”

She added: “Previous visits of similar nature led to the construction of a 24/7 hospital in Bangladesh to support 140,000 Rohingya refugees in cooperation with Doctors without Borders. We are confident that in coming years there will be more Emirati humanitarian projects around the world to support more refugees and vulnerable populations in affected areas.”