Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, has said that the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA), was launched as a humanitarian initiative under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to drive sustainable humanitarian work and focus on long-term impact.
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi explained: “There is a constant need to go beyond standard human rights principles to improve and promote humanitarian work, and encourage the community to get more involved”.
Her Highness pointed out that the award seeks to ensure the sustainability of projects and initiatives that prioritise the needs of refugees and IDPs. These initiatives should focus on connecting stakeholders and related parties to create sustainable humanitarian projects through their integrated efforts.
Her Highness noted: “The involvement of refugees in the decision-making process alongside all stakeholders under the umbrella of UN served to narrow the gap between the aid provided and the actual needs of refugees”. She praised the efforts of international institutions in the development of a set of values that could be applied globally to promote sustainable humanitarian work and enhance the rapid emergency response systems, while adhering to the principles of impartiality, transparency and accountability.
The TBHF Chairperson said: “It is time for refugees to have a say in such projects. The number of refugees worldwide was nearing a record of 70 million, and that the UN sustainable goals could not be achieved until refugees’ basic needs for health, education, work, dignity and social integration were met.”
Speaking on SIARA’s role in nurturing and supporting sustainable humanitarian projects, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher said: “The selection criteria for SIARA has been formulated together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which we share common responsibilities and visions for global humanitarian challenges and collaborate on various development and relief projects. The award’s nominees are selected based on specific criteria, which includes the quality of work done, the impact it made, and the number of beneficiaries reached.”
She added that one of the main challenges to be addressed was finding ways to further advance the culture of humanitarian work within international, local, private and government entities, as well as among individuals.
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher stressed that the award supports sustainable aid projects which can effectively contribute in bridging the gap between refugees’ needs, and the quantity and quality of support provided.
“SIARA was launched to shine a spotlight on creative initiatives and programmes that have made a difference in the lives of refugees, IDPs and those in need of humanitarian support. The award celebrates people working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to give these people hope for a better future, and be an inspiration to others in this field. The continuance of humanitarian efforts will ensure a brighter future for refugees and their families worldwide,” said Her Highness.
She said that the award puts the humanitarian vision of the UAE and Sharjah into practice. It celebrates the strength of individual and collective contributions, and their crucial role in mitigating crisis and solving humanity’s most pressing of problems. Sheikha Jawaher also emphasised that working in solidarity for the good of humanity was not a mere slogan for TBHF, but a key requirement to address the growing challenges and conflicts worldwide which continue to rise.
Philanthropic work needs role models
Her Highness highlighted that humanitarian work is like any other kind of work; in that it requires constant revision and improvement to achieve results and inspire real change.
Regarding the role models that SIARA seeks to highlight, Her Highness said: “We seek consistency in choosing the winner. We lay special emphasis on comparing the achievements of the winning individual or organisation to the SIARA’s objectives, in addition to their project’s responsiveness to overcoming the challenges faced by refugees. We pursue to encourage and empower these initiatives, as they are forming a strong basis for worldwide humanitarian work, which we hope to see one day as a societal duty taken up collectively, as opposed to being delivered formally only by official organisations and stakeholders. These efforts will sure help raise an aware generation of young individuals ready to take on their personal roles and responsibility towards mitigating humanitarian crises.”
She stressed that sustainable humanitarian work requires role models in the lead, to ensure the engagement of all segments of society. “By appreciating and honouring humanitarian work and charitable giving, we encourage more participation from individuals, which creates a stronger impact and ensures continuity of efforts in the field. Alongside alleviating the suffering of refugees and IDPs, giving shows the strength of humanism and solidarity in a world scarred by conflicts. We hope people’s brilliant efforts will contribute to adding a more humane dimension to our world,” Her Highness concluded.