ABU DHABI // The UAE Red Crescent plans to spend at least Dh1 million a day during Ramadan on projects that feed and clothe individuals in 65 countries, with a focus on embattled Yemen, Pakistan, Gaza and the West Bank. The organisation released details of its plans for the Holy Month yesterday, along with a document detailing large contributions in 2009 and total overseas aid worth almost Dh500m.
The authority, which is the only group authorised to distribute charity from the UAE to outside recipients, said it was allocating an initial sum of Dh28m for Ramadan-related projects this year. That figure likely will rise as donations come in. "We want to point out that the specified budget for the seasonal Ramadan projects, whether internal or external, are initial amounts that multiply with the response and interaction of donors with our agency's efforts," said Mohammed Khalifa al Qamzi, the UAE Red Crescent's secretary general.
With the current budget, programmes are expected to help 75,000 individuals a day throughout the month. Two-thirds of the recipients are in the UAE, Mr al Qamzi said. Ten million dirhams will be allocated to external projects, including providing iftar meals, providing clothes to orphans for Eid and distributing zakatul fitr, an alms tax due at the end of Ramadan. "Dealing with the Red Crescent is insurance for the donor and for the person who deserves them," Mr al Qamzi said. He said government regulations ensure that the money does not go to the "wrong people".
The Red Crescent has said its safeguards ensure that money cannot be used to finance extremists. Inside the UAE, the authority is setting up 92 Ramadan tents and providing clothes to more than 3,000 orphans. It will distribute coupons that allow families to buy food and will collect donations through SMS. Mr al Qazmi said donors can now decide where their money is spent, addressing criticism that the Red Crescent spends too much abroad as opposed to focusing on UAE residents.
"If there is patriotic sentiment and interest in certain segments of our society, then we urge donors to specify these contributions are to be used inside the country," he said. The Red Crescent also released of a document detailing its contributions to humanitarian efforts. Inside the UAE, these include Ramadan programmes, facilitating Hajj, inmate care, orphan sponsorship and medical aid. Overseas, they include food and medical aid, Ramadan projects, schools and construction. Total overseas donations in 2009 exceeded Dh460m, according to the document, which was released to improve transparency, Mr al Qamzi said.