Jawaher Al Qasimi: Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support Reflects UAE’s Ever-growing Humanitarian Spirit


Sharjah: Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that the issue of forced displacement leaving millions homeless and hopeless is one of the most pressing humanitarian concerns worldwide. Shedding light on the unimaginable hardships refugees need to surmount every day to secure their basic rights of food, health and shelter, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher emphasised on the need for consolidated and concerted global relief measures to help these families including women and children living in dire conditions.

Her Highness stressed on the fact that the responsibility of advocacy and supporting those in need is not only a moral duty, but is also the essence of our role as global citizens and are pivotal to ensuring international peace and security.

“Hardships, hunger, disease and danger do not differentiate between men and women or the young and the old. It is therefore imperative for us to respond quickly; a duty that we are bound by our principles and traditions, our humanity and our upbringing to lend a helping hand to those in need regardless of their religion, ethnicity or gender. This is why The Big Heart Foundation is at the forefront of organisational as well as individualistic efforts dedicated to offering life-saving aid to refugees in many countries across Asia and the Middle East and North Africa,” HH Sheikha Jawaher said.

HH Sheikha Jawaher added: “We have seen local and international relief organisations and associations who have exerted immense efforts that have had a profound impact on relieving the misfortunes of millions of people in dire distress. Many of these relief and humanitarian bodies have worked silently and diligently behind the scenes, and only a few know the great contributions and results of their efforts.”

“The idea of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support was conceived to honour these unsung heroes. The Big Heart Foundation launched the award in 2017 to honour the most outstanding relief and humanitarian initiatives around the world, and celebrate their unique contributions towards putting an end to the suffering of refugees and displaced persons. In doing so, we hoped to inspire individuals and institutions everywhere to excel in their philanthropic efforts,” HH Sheikha Jawaher continued.

Her Highness clarified that the award exemplifies the UAE’s message of goodness and humanitarianism to the entire world. “The UAE has always been at the forefront of charity and relief efforts, as that is what we have been taught by our forefathers – to establish a community based on goodness and giving. The award is also a testament to the central role Sharjah plays under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, in supporting relief initiatives regionally and internationally,” Sheikha Jawaher emphasised.

HH Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi noted that the award is an honest expression of hope – one that envisions a future that is safe, secure, just and equal for all; of a world where children and adults will enjoy a dignified life and decent living conditions where things like a good education, health services and peace will be a given. We are eagerly looking forward to see if the award has its intended impact on the lives of refugees and those in need in the long run, and until they return home safely.”

The award was launched in January 2017 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, and under the vision and directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi. It since has marked a milestone in supporting global relief work on a large scale.

In March 2018, The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) announced that the original value of the Sharjah Award’s prize money has been increased to $136,000 (AED 500,000) from $100,000 (AED 367,000). The winner of the second edition of this prestigious humanitarian award will be announced and honoured later this month.

SIARA aims to inspire other individuals and organisations to carry out pioneering initiatives and projects with a positive and tangible impact on refugees in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, so as to make a difference in refugees’ lives and encourage people in the region to stand in solidarity.

The award focuses on honouring those who carried out effective projects and initiatives, which genuinely contributed to bettering the lives of refugees and displaced persons. It recognises those who have brought comfort and aid to people living under harsh conditions, chiefly women and children, by offering them jobs and sources of income, as well as providing them with educational opportunities, healthcare, social and cultural care.

The nominated entries are evaluated in terms of their positive impact on target groups of refugees and displaced persons, with a focus on improving the efficiency of financial and human resources management, implementing governance, transparency and responsibility practices, as well as effective communication with the audience during the implementation of the initiative or project.

According to UNHCR, over 65 million people forced to flee their homes due to armed conflicts and wars, more than 25 percent are living in the MENA region, where many international and UN organisations and bodies are making considerable efforts to ensure their basic life requirements.

In June 2016, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi launched TBHF to coincide with the World Refugee Day. It followed her decision to transform what was then The Big Heart Campaign into a global humanitarian foundation. The move aimed to redouble efforts to help refugees and people in need worldwide, adding significantly to the UAE’s rich portfolio of humanitarian initiatives regionally and globally.