x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE digs deep for world's trouble-stricken millions

In 2011 donor organisations in the Emirates raised Dh7.74 billion.

DUBAI // The UAE has helped millions of refugees around the world, building camps and giving food and medical aid, as government organisations and citizens work with international agencies.

In 2011 more than Dh7 billion in aid from 34 donor organisations was used to aid a growing number of internally displaced people and refugees from Syria, Libya, Palestine, Pakistan, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Somalia, among others.

The UAE Red Crescent recently spent Dh800,000 supporting families who had been living in camps since Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines last December.

"A lot of people have been displaced from their homes," said Mohammed Al Zarouni, manager of the Red Crescent's office in Dubai and head of the team that returned this week from Mindanao.

"We have given food packets and medicines to 2,500 families in refugee camps and set up clinics. We visited Compostela Valley, Davao and Palawan and spent more than 15 days assisting people."

Mr Al Zarouni said the UAE was the first Arab country to help the Philippines and work with the country's Red Cross.

He said the world was witnessing an increasing number of refugees because of wars, political instability and climate change, with those in need struggling to find a home.

"Earlier, big countries like the US, Canada, Sweden and several European nations were accepting refugees," Mr Al Zarouni said. "Now they are not accepting as many as before. It is getting harder on refugees as they have nowhere to go."

Mohammed Haji Khouri, director general of the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, said his organisation was helping refugees in several Middle East countries.

"We support refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen and Tunisia," Mr Khouri said. "These are our focus countries. The UAE has been doing a lot for refugees in the world."

The nation hosts the UN refugee agency's largest stockpile of emergency aid, at International Humanitarian City in Dubai.

Last year, 112 shipments were sent to countries such as Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. This included 25,800 tents, 312,110 blankets, 235,200 sleeping mats, 15,000 buckets, 81,760 kitchen sets, 83,300 jerrycans, 10,000 plastic sheets and 937 plastic rolls.

"The global stockpile in Dubai has helped increase the volume of our support," said Mohammed Abu Asaker, the agency's public information officer in Abu Dhabi. "This has been a huge contribution to emergencies."

The UN's Global Trends report states there are 631 refugees waiting in the UAE to be resettled in other countries as of last year.

More recently, the UAE took in 45 Sri Lankans who had left India to seek asylum in Australia but arrived in Dubai after their boat ran into trouble. Fifteen continue to wait in Jebel Ali for applications to be accepted in other countries.

pkannan@thenational.ae