x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE at the forefront of aid for Syria’s refugees, says expert

The UAE has welcomed the humanitarian community to the point that it’s efforts have become noticed on a global scale.

DUBAI // The UAE is leading by example when it comes to helping Syrian refugees and those caught up in the country’s civil war.

Kevin Noone, head of the International Medical Corps (IMC) in the UK and vice president of its global strategies in the US, said the UAE had shown great dedication in helping those affected by the crisis, with humanitarian organisations and the country’s rulers facilitating the shipment of much- needed aid and manpower.

“Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Princess Haya are an example to us, they are ahead of us, they have an innate understanding of human needs,” said Mr Noone.

He added that IMC, a humanitarian and NGO organisation, would begin to use International Humanitarian City in Dubai as a hub to more quickly respond to emergencies in the Middle East.

The UAE has welcomed the humanitarian community to the point that it’s efforts have become noticed on a global scale. “This is an incredible foresight on facilitating the global response to the region,” said Mr Noone.

The International Humanitarian City, IHC, which houses United Nations facilities, will allow NGOs as well as commercial organisations to work together to provide aid.

Mr Noone said that, due to Shaima Al Zarooni, chief executive of IHC, groups in IHC would be able to “literally respond within 24 hours to a disaster”, including aiding Syrian refugees.

There has been a mass movement of Syrians across borders, Mr Noone said. Most of the displaced are women and children. Some suffer from mental and psychosocial issues more than physical ones, as a result of the continuing conflict. Refugees also suffer from a sense of loss, with no normality in their lives.

IMC has tackled several of these issues by providing internet access, social outlets and game rooms to relieve stress, Mr Noone said.

While mental issues were having a greater effect, Mr Noone emphasised that physical problems, such as respiratory infections and Leishmaniasis – a disease transmitted by infected sandflies – were a major concern.

Besides providing aid, IMC’s purpose is “to meet logistical and staffing needs for the regional effort”. The NGO will also run workshops and training for staff and their local counterparts.

“It is preferential to have people who understand the customs and speak the language,” he said.