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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 January 2019

Sharjah Sheikha launches Syrian charity drive

Members of the public have been urged to donate towards providing a warm shelter or blankets to thousands of Syrian refugees braving the bitter cold as temperatures plummet.
Refugees are given a stove in Arsal last month, as part of the UNHCR efforts to help them battle the bitter winter conditions. Courtesy UNHCR
Refugees are given a stove in Arsal last month, as part of the UNHCR efforts to help them battle the bitter winter conditions. Courtesy UNHCR

ABU DHABI // As little as Dh40 will provide a blanket for a refugee from Syria’s civil war – and generous residents who have already donated millions are again being asked to open their hearts to help.

After the success last year of her Big Heart Campaign, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and an Eminent Advocate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has launched a new Warm Hearts initiative.

“We are extremely grateful to all those who have donated warm clothing,” Sheikha Jawaher said, “but the tragic reality is that the situation has now gone from critical to catastrophic.

“With freezing temperatures night and day, many refugee children are now unable to go to school, while their parents are unable to go and seek urgent medical attention.”

Temperatures have plummeted to -9°C in parts of Iraq and remain below freezing in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, raising fears of hypothermia, hunger and widespread medical problems.

Sheikha Jawaher’s initiative has two packages for those wishing to donate.

The first asks for donations of Dh11,500 to provide warm shelter for one family, Dh115,000 for 10 families or Dh1.15 million for 100 families.

The second provides blankets for refugees; a Dh40 donation supplies one blanket, Dh200 gives blankets to one family, Dh1,000 for five families, Dh100,000 for 500 families or Dh1 million for 5,000 families.

“For a few years now Syrian families have found refuge in neighbouring countries to protect their children from bullets and bombs,” said Sheikha Jawaher.

“But sadly, they are now faced with another deadly threat in this harsh winter. If we don’t provide adequate shelter, blankets and warm clothing, we may have many casualties – many of them children. Only the warmth of your hearts can save them, so let’s join hands in donating pre-fab homes and winter supplies to the Syrian families under the cold, dark, open skies right now.”

The Big Heart Campaign has provided housing for 10,000 homeless Syrians and brought food, money and other relief to 400,000 refugees across the region.

It has also been working to establish temporary hospitals that have provided urgent medical treatment for 265,000 Syrians.

A three-day fundraising telethon drive on Abu Dhabi TV in December raised Dh120 million for the refugees.

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, announced his support on Wednesday for a number of international charity initiatives.

Speaking to staff at Unicef House in New York, Mr Ban hailed the efforts of the US$1 billion No Lost Generation strategy being implemented by Unicef, Save the Children and the UNHCR to protect children displaced by the Syrian crisis.

“Many, many children are suffering from violence, particularly in Syria,” he said.

“I applaud the creativity and leadership of the No Lost Generation initiative. The children of Syria are our hope for the future.”

The campaign puts emphasis on saving a generation of potential leaders, teachers, engineers doctors and peacemakers.

It is also focused on “expanding access to learning and psychosocial support, strengthening social cohesion and peacebuilding efforts”, said the executive director of Unicef, Anthony Lake.

A new website has been launched to tell the stories of some of the children affected, and shows where the funding support has gone to ease their suffering.

According to Unicef, since the crisis began almost three years ago more than a million children from Syria have become refugees and more than 425,000 of those are under the age of five.

As many as 5,000 of those children are believed to have been separated from their families.

Donations for the Warm Hearts campaign can be made by contacting +971-6-594-1111, 1115 or 1103.

ksinclair@thenational.ae

Updated: January 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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