x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dh66 million raised for Syrian refugees

The funds have been raised as part of the Emirates Red Crescent’s Our Hearts Are With the Syrian People campaign, launched after a directive from the President, Sheikh Khalifa.

A telethon to raise money for Syrian refugees started on Friday. The event was broadcast on Abu Dhabi TV. Delores Johnson / The National
A telethon to raise money for Syrian refugees started on Friday. The event was broadcast on Abu Dhabi TV. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // More than Dh66 million has been raised to help Syrian refugees survive the winter.

The funds have been raised as part of the Emirates Red Crescent’s Our Hearts Are With the Syrian People campaign, launched after a directive from the President, Sheikh Khalifa.

One of the biggest donations came from Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of the late President Sheikh Zayed and chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, who gave Dh10m.

A telethon on Abu Dhabi TV on Friday collected millions when it was screened from 2pm to 8pm.

Generous residents and companies from across the country have been digging deep to aid those in need.

Dubai Islamic Bank Humanitarian Foundation gave Dh10m on Thursday. The same day, Dar Al Ber Society donated Dh3.6m, Darwesh bin Ahmed and Sons gave Dh2m, and Al Ansari Exchange and Al Hilal Bank handed over Dh1m each.

The telethon broadcast live footage of the living conditions of Syrian refugees, some of whom told of their suffering, grievances and fight for survival as winter storms battered their accomodation.

“This is the situation you can see. I pray Allah the mercy on all of us and thank the emirates for their humanitarian efforts,” said a sick, elderly Syrian who was unable to rise from his bed at a camp in Jordan.

The winter storms that have battered parts of the Middle East have resulted in a severe shortage of basic necessities.

The Red Crescent’s campaign will help send vital relief such as blankets to refugees in Jordan and surrounding areas.

International aid organisations such as Unicef have called for help to provide more relief to refugees, thousands of whom live in tents with limited supplies.

“Syrian refugees are dying of the cold and face very harsh consequences,” Hamdan Al Mazrouei, chairman of the Emirates Red Crescent, told Abu Dhabi TV on Friday. “The snowfall and cold have badly affected people in refugee camps in Jordan.”

Mr Al Mazrouei said financial help was essential.

“The entire world watches the UAE as we are always ahead in all humanitarian and economical fields,” he said. “We prevail the message of peace and safety among all.

“These people are humans and have noses, ears and eyes like us all. We have to help them. The UAE does not differentiate in its humanitarian support to the world, as we did for the Philippines.

“Syrian refugees asked us, ‘God has given you oil and money. What you have done for us?’

“That was a question that touched our hearts. Today I am very thankful to all those have been contributing to the humanitarian cause.”

Ahmed Al Yamahi, reporting from the UAE-funded refugee camp in Jordan, said: “The camps are covered with snow and the land turned into a white blanket.

“We provide them the maximum support we can. Still, they need monetary help to buy commodities to protect them from cold.”

Television channels and radio stations across the country are supporting the fundraising drive, broadcasting numbers that residents can text to make a donation.

More than 2.3 million Syrians have left their homes since the civil war broke out on March 2011.

About 800,000 refugees are in Lebanon, with 569,000 in Jordan, 553,000 in Turkey and 209,460 in Iraq.

According to the telethon, about 5,000 people flee Syria every day.

The telethon will continue on Saturday from 2pm to 4pm on Abu Dhabi TV, which is owned by Abu Dhabi Media, publisher of The National.

Emirates Red Crescent has also set up eight donation stalls across the country where people can hand over money and goods.

Locations include Dubai Mall and Mirdif City Centre Mall, Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall, Jimi Mall in Al Ain, Mega Mall in Sharjah and Ajman City Centre.

anwar@thenational.ae