x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE Red Crescent gives Syrian refugees basic trappings of home

For the past several months, the charitable organisation has been visiting between 40 and 50 homes a week, delivering basic home furnishings.

MAFRAQ, JORDAN // The sight of the UAE Red Crescent approaching Abu Wael's new residence brought him running out in his jalabiya.

After spending two months sleeping on the floor with his family on a sponge mattress donated by a neighbour, Abu Wael and his wife and five children were finally going to receive the basic trappings of home.

As the Red Crescent's Emirati volunteers brought in new mattresses, blankets, flooring and cushions, the mother could not stop thanking them.

"We have nothing, as you can see," the woman from Homs said as she stood by the door, covering her face from cameras in a small, dark room. "We all have been living on the floor in this room. No toilet, no nothing."

Conditions were the same for many families the Red Crescent visited yesterday.

For the past several months, the charitable organisation has been visiting between 40 and 50 homes a week, delivering basic home furnishings. It visited 500 to 600 homes a week to deliver basic food supplies.

In the visits, families were also asked if they needed anything else the Red Crescent could provide.

Many feared they would not be able to meet the rent because they were unemployed or undocumented.

In these cases, the Red Crescent would pay for the room and hand the refugees a copy of the contract. Cash is rarely given to the refugees.

"We have an office here at [the Emirati-Jordanian Field Hospital] where any Syrian can come and ask for help," said Dr Khalid Al Saadi, head of the hospital.

"Then we would send researchers out to study their case, assess it, then we would start giving them aid within days."

The Red Crescent handed out aid from one location in the first half of the year, but found it was not effective as some people could not make it there and others took more than their share.

"Making everyone come to one location was hard because we could not control the crowds," Dr Al Saadi said. "Finding cases ourselves is better to know that they are genuine."

He said there was also more dignity for the families in having packages delivered to their door.

Most of the families receiving aid were Syrians who escaped but abandoned the refugee camps.

Although some Jordanians have helped by sponsoring refugees leaving the camps, fewer have been able to do so, said Majid Sulaiman, head of the UAE relief team.

osalem@thenational.ae