x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE gives Dh130m in aid to Syrian people

The total includes a massive contribution of Dh36.7m from Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the wife of founding President Sheikh Zayed.

ABU DHABI // The UAE has given Dh130.2 million in humanitarian aid to help Syrians forced to flee their homes in the country's devastating civil war.

The total includes a contribution of Dh36.7m from Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, widow of the founding President, Sheikh Zayed, towards the Big Heart for Syrian Refugee Children campaign, which provides life-changing basic needs such as food, medication, shelter and education.

Of the 4.2 million people who have become refugees or homeless as a result of the civil war, an estimated 2.1 million are children.

"The UAE has delivered a rapid response to the Syrian crisis, inside and outside, in the countries that host the Syrian refugees," a Ministry of International Cooperation and Development report said yesterday. Last year alone the UAE provided humanitarian aid totalling Dh56.7m for Syrian refugees.

The assistance came in the form of shelters, a residential village for refugees, mobile hospital camps, relief funds and supplies, food parcels, medicines, medical equipment, children's toys, blankets, fuel and cooking supplies.

The report said 6.8 million people in Syria have been affected by the war since it began in March 2011.

A total of 1.8 million Syrians have fled into neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

An estimated four million people inside Syria are also considered "food insecure" because of the number of refugees, unemployment, disruption of agricultural production, currency depreciation and high food and fuel prices.

The report warned that humanitarian organisations were being held back from delivering aid to millions of affected people in places such as Homs and Aleppo because of continuing violence.

There are about 525,000 Palestinian refugees inside Syria and UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency, estimates that 420,000 of them are in need of humanitarian aid.

The report also highlighted risks flagged by the World Health Organisation about the heightened threat of communicable disease outbreaks, including waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and hepatitis, because of difficulties delivering medical supplies.

As the Syrian crisis has escalated, so have appeals for aid.

Last month, the UN issued a humanitarian appeal for US$4.4 billion (Dh16.1bn) – its largest ever – to meet the needs of Syrian refugees this year. The figure was increased dramatically from January's appeal for $1.5bn.

jbell@thenational.ae