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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 January 2019

UAE winter aid programme comes to relief of thousands in Jordan

Mother-of-nine Khadija Jararwah is just one of thousands of needy people to benefit from a Dh15 million donation drive

Emirates Red Crescent is continuing aid missions to needy people across the Middle East and beyond. Courtesy Wam
Emirates Red Crescent is continuing aid missions to needy people across the Middle East and beyond. Courtesy Wam

Life is never easy but winter can be the bleakest time of all for Khadija Jararwah and her nine children in Jordan.

The single mother, who supports her impoverished family by selling parsley, coriander and other herbs, is forced to rummage through garbage cans to collect unwanted items to burn and create a makeshift fire as temperatures plunge.

But, as of Wednesday, her winter of discontent is over - thanks to vital supporting winging its way from the UAE.

It was the day she became the latest recipient of the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) winter aid programme, launched by the humanitarian organisation's chair Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed at the start of the year.

The ERC has allocated Dh15 million to provide warm clothes, blankets, heaters and foodstuff to 1 million Syrian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Greece and other countries.

The programme does not only help people in refugee camps, but all people in need of a helping hand, such as Ms Jararwah and her family.

In Jordan, Dh4.8 million is being distributed to support 135,000 people – and it extended its aid beyond helping Syrian refugees to include Jordanian and Iraqi families too.

Volunteers have already started offering aid in the Emirati-Jordanian Camp in Mereijeeb Al Fuhood, and in Al Zarqaa on Friday before heading to Al Tofeilah Governorate in the south of Jordan.

On Monday, they went to Al Ramathaa, at the farthest north on the Jordanian-Syrian borders.

“We are covering all of Jordan’s cities and provinces, from North to South and West to East,” said Saeed Al Mazrouei, head of the ERC’s aid and relief department.

“In the programme we don’t only distribute goods to refugees, we also conduct medical tests for them, and we help them with other things they need,” he said.

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It was in Al Ramathaa on Wednesday, that a life-changing encounter took place with Ms Jararwah and her family.

“They gave us a heater, blankets, warm clothes and brought gifts for the children,” said the 51-year-old.

Even more than precious items to stay warm, the charity granted her respite from troubles and the chance of a brighter future.

The ERC paid off three months of overdue rent and offered to build her a house to live in with her family .

“We have been moving from house to house for the past three years, and I don’t have money to pay rent,” she said.

“Every Friday I ask benefactors to contribute.

“When the ERC volunteers said they will build us a house we were about to fly with joy.

“This was the kids’ dream before being my dream; to have our own house and not be forced to move.”

This was the first time that she was benefiting from the winter-aid programme.

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Read more: Lebanon's winter storm floods refugee settlements

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Ms Jararwah has gone to great lengths to protect her family during the colder months.

“Every year we used to warm ourselves by burning sponge and wood that we collected from old couches that I found thrown away in the street.

“And I didn’t always find sofas, so I would collect old shoes from garbage cans because they burn easily.”

“But of course once we burnt all those things, everything turned black, our faces, our clothes, the furniture, everything.”

Over the last three years, she has also racked up debts equivalent to Dh 1,553, just to provide her family’s basic needs.

“Every day I go to the grocer to borrow food and basic items, and I carry my book of debts with me everywhere, I record everything so in case I die, people’s rights are not lost,” she said.

While the ERC has been carrying out winter relief campaigns and a number of relief initiatives throughout the years for Syrian refugees since 2011, some European countries have been accused of trapping refugees on islands for “indefinite periods”.

On Wednesday, the British leading charity Oxfam published a report condemning the Greek government and European Union over abandoned refugee camps.

An example was the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, where people are overcrowded in unheated tents and limited access to toilets and washing facilities.

Updated: January 10, 2019 03:08 PM

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