x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Red Crescent to pitch in for Syrian refugees in Lebanon

The UAE Red Crescent said it was working with the Lebanese Red Cross on a plan to provide refugees with food, medicine and shelter.

DUBAI // Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon will soon be receiving aid from the Emirates.

The UAE Red Crescent said it was working with the Lebanese Red Cross on a plan to provide refugees with food, medicine and shelter.

"We are setting up an operational plan," Ahmed Al Mazroui, chairman of the UAE Red Crescent board, said on the sidelines of an annual meeting of Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross societies in Dubai yesterday.

"They [the Lebanese Red Cross] are working on setting up an operations plan with the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN organisations. "We have visited Lebanon and are working in coordination with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees."

Mr Al Mazroui said the two organisations had signed a memorandum of understanding last week.

He said there were more than 11,000 registered refugees in Lebanon but estimated the number of unregistered, displaced Syrians at more than 35,000.

The UAE Red Crescent is already working in Jordan, assisting more than 8,000 Syrian nationals with food, medicines and shelter.

Authorities at the three-day meeting, which began yesterday at the Moevenpick Hotel and Apartments Bur Dubai, will discuss humanitarian crises with more than 20 of the region's charitable societies.

Mr Al Mazroui said better coordination and increased reliance on technology was needed among humanitarian organisations.

"We need to do more than what we have done; more in terms of working together, in terms of exchange of information with each other," he said. "It is not happening on a high scale. Sometimes there is a problem when you don't coordinate with the national society."

Relief leaders said the situations in Somalia and Yemen were also at the top of their agendas.

"Somalia is unfortunately a complete crisis. They have the internal war besides the drought," said Abdullah Al Hazaa, secretary general of the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organisation in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Al Hazaa said the aid agencies were working towards setting up a channel of communications, improving IT and strengthening their information database. He also said nations had to do more to respond to problems.

"What we are providing now is, unfortunately, not enough," Mr Hazaa said. "We need governments to give more support for moving of relief teams."

pkannan@thenational.ae