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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 October 2018

Emirates Red Crescent continues to aid Syrian refugees

Emirates Red Crescent has given more than Dh65m in aid to Syrian refugees since January 2012.

ABU DHABI // Emirates Red Crescent has given more than Dh65 million in aid to Syrian refugees since they started to flee their country in January last year.

The UN this week said refugee numbers had exceeded 2 million, with more than half of them children, and that they were leaving the country at a rate of 5,000 a day.

Although it is not working inside Syria, ERC has had a constant presence in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, which are bearing the greatest burdens in caring for those who have fled the fighting.

Mohammed Al Zaroni, manager of the ERC Dubai, said the Dh65m was spent between January last year and April this year. It was used for food, clothing, furniture, health centres and transport for refugees.

“The Red Crescent had a great big campaign for Syrians,” Mr Al Zaroni said. “Through field visits we have followed up and continued giving aid. I personally was in Lebanon for the whole of last Ramadan.”

Most of the funds, Dh42.2m, were used in Jordan.

Four planes and 55 trucks loaded with aid have delivered assistance to more than 7,000 families.

More than 115,000 food and health parcels have been distributed, including 270 tonnes of food, 167,370 clothing items, shoes and blankets.

The ERC also established the biggest field hospital in Mafraq, Jordan, where more than 84,900 patients have been treated. About 300 people injured in the fighting have undergone surgery and there have been only two deaths.

But there have also been 150 births, and many of the children born have been named for the President, Sheikh Khalifa, and members of the Ruling Family in appreciation.

Mr Al Zaroni said 76 doctors were working in the field hospital, including a number of Emiratis.

“We also contributed in the Zaatari camp,” he said. “We have three mobile clinics and gave relief organisations 10 vehicles to move injured Syrians from the border to hospitals and camps.”

This year the ERC opened a “five-star” camp in Mrajeeb Al Fhood, Jordan, where families could be accommodated in caravans.

“We did this only for Syrian families,” Mr Al Zaroni said. “The camp has a school, kitchens providing cooked food daily, playgrounds and medical facilities.”

So far the camp, which can take up to 30,000 people, has 5,000 residents.

“The most important thing in this camp is the security, and it provides opportunities for Syrians to work as merchants,” he said.

In Lebanon, 14,000 families have been supported with aid of more than Dh17.3m. While the ERC has not set up any camps or field hospital there, thousands of dirhams have been given to hospitals for refugees.

“We did several things there. We met several injured Syrians, we offered them medical services,” Mr Al Zaroni said. “And in a hospital in Tripoli, we give new mums a baby bag, filled with everything they will need for six months.”

The ERC has also sent medical equipment to nine hospitals in Lebanon and has presented the Lebanon Red Crescent with an ambulance.

In Turkey, where the government has taken on most of the responsibility for caring for the refugees, the ERC has been able to provide 5,000 families with aid worth more than Dh5.6m.

“We will have a big presence inside Syria as soon as conditions stabilise,” Mr Al Zaroni said.

He thanked Emirati and Syrian businessmen, many of whom wished to remain anonymous, for their donations to the refugees.

osalem@thenational.ae