x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Relief aid for 200,000 Syrians sets sail from UAE

The 43 containers contain goods worth Dh5.5 million that will help up to 190,000 people in the war-torn country.

Tens of thousands of sleeping mats, kitchen equipment, jerrycans, thermal blankets and plastic tarpaulins worth Dh5.5 million will be sent on Tuesday from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) warehouse in Dubai to Tartus in Syria. Jaime Puebla / The National
Tens of thousands of sleeping mats, kitchen equipment, jerrycans, thermal blankets and plastic tarpaulins worth Dh5.5 million will be sent on Tuesday from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) warehouse in Dubai to Tartus in Syria. Jaime Puebla / The National

DUBAI // Nearly 200,000 Syrians will receive much-needed support when 43 containers of aid set sail from the UAE on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of sleeping mats, kitchen equipment, jerrycans, thermal blankets and plastic tarpaulins worth Dh5.5 million will be sent from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees warehouse in Dubai to Tartus in Syria.

“This is the largest shipment to be sent so far from the UN’s stockpile to Syria this year,” said Mohammed Abu Asaker, the agency’s public information and communications officer. “This is bigger in terms of the items included.”

According to the UN, the civil war has left 4.25 million Syrians displaced inside the country, while another 2.4 million have fled to neighbouring countries.

Last year, the agency sent 373 containers and 140 lorries with nearly 4,000 metric tonnes of aid worth $16.3m (Dh59.8m) to Syrian refugees. This included 9,140 tents, 723,960 blankets, 241,650 sleeping mats, 6,360 buckets, 143,945 kitchen sets, 226,350 jerrycans and 223,150 plastic sheets to people in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon.

With no signs of a political solution in Syria, the agency made one of its largest appeals for donations in history in December last year.

“We have appealed for $4.2 billion for Syrian refugees outside the country and another $2.3bn for internally displaced persons (IDPs). We have received only 12 per cent of the funds,” Mr Asaker said.

UNHCR’s shipments from its stockpile at International Humanitarian City in Dubai, to Syria and other troubled countries, have doubled in the past year.

“In 2013, we shipped 30 per cent more core-relief items than in 2012, while the volume of cargo handled in 2012 and 2013 increased by 100 per cent from the previous year,” Mr Asaker said.

About 103 shipments were dispatched last year to more than 36 countries, compared with 22 countries in 2012. The crises in Syria, the Philippines and the Central African Republic alone resulted in multiple shipments from Dubai last year.

Even as the UN refugee agency’s aid will soon be on its way, a local fashion firm has designed T-shirts and hand-made dolls to raise money for Syrian refugees.

GlamOnYou will work with a Jordanian charity, Breathing Numbers, to raise about Dh55,000 by selling the items. The money will be used to buy four caravans for children in Jordan’s Zaatari camp, where they can play, sing and draw with other children. A matching number of dolls sold will also be sent to the children.

The joint initiative, called Amal, which means “hope” in Arabic, promises to offer peace and optimism to the children.

“Being a mother myself, the Amal project is a cause which is very close to my heart,” said Nadine Arton, designer and founder of GlamOnYou.

“It’s fundamental for children to be allowed to enjoy growing up in an environment where they can learn, have fun and feel happiness.”

She said they had already raised more than Dh15,000.

“We are so thrilled with people’s generosity, but we really need to continue this momentum and sell more and more,” she added.

“The sooner we raise the funds, the sooner we will be able to purchase them, and with everyone’s help and support, we would like to make this happen in May.”

The T-shirts and dolls are available at GlamOnYou showroom in Al Wasl, as well as in shops in the Mercato, Wafi and Sunset malls. They can also be bought online on glamonyou.com and via the company’s social-media channels.

pkannan@thenational.ae