Announcing the launch of a humanitarian COVID-19 response campaign, titled ‘Support Knows No Safe Distance’, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, has made a global call for concerted action to intensify efforts to protect marginalized and vulnerable groups from the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, saying: “Time is of the essence, and a lot can be done in the context of prevention and blocking the path of the virus’ spread through rapid and effective response especially in crowded and ill-equipped refugee settlements.”
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi has urged individuals, communities, nations, governments and businesses around the world to extend their charitable donations and zakat to this campaign. The campaign’s initial operations will focus on supporting healthcare capacities in refugee and internally displaced people sites (IDP) in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Bangladesh and Kenya, along with monitoring the latest developments in the health situation across various refugee and (IDP) sites around the world.
Locally, TBHF will provide food supplies to workers and families from different nationalities residing in the UAE who have been affected directly or indirectly by the spread of COVID-19.
Outlining that The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian organization dedicated to helping refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), and people in need worldwide, would lead the response campaign, HH Sheikha Jawaher noted: “The fight against this pandemic is every individual’s and institution’s responsibility. Each of us can contribute to saving thousands of people from succumbing to this disease and protect many more who are at risk. The efforts being made by our doctors, researchers, first responders and volunteers are invaluable. We must make the maximum contributions within our means to support the selfless efforts of our heroes on the front lines.”
Those wishing to contribute to the campaign with their zakat or donations through a link on TBHF’s website www.tbhf.ae. The page contains details of the various donation channels including SMS and bank transfers. TBHF has not set a minimum or maximum limit to the donation value with the aim of providing everyone an opportunity to contribute as per their willingness and capability.
As the world witnesses its worst refugee crisis, with 70.8 million people forced out of their homes according to UNHCR, the campaign has strategically identified refugee and IDP hotspot nations to prevent the catastrophic impact of a coronavirus outbreak in densely populated camps by stepping up life-saving support to protect those seeking refuge in these settlements.
According to UNHCR statistics in 2018, Lebanon is home to 966,089 refugees, while Jordan and Kenya host 767,874 and 471,724 refugees, respectively. Around 906,690 people are seeking asylum in Bangladesh, while Palestine is home to 238,000 internally displaced people.
Focus on boosting the health system’s readiness in five high-risk countries
Taking into account the ground realities of humanitarian conditions in some of the world’s biggest refugee settlements, TBHF’s ‘Support Knows No Safe Distance’ campaign has developed targeted strategies by identifying the priorities and needs of refugees across all beneficiary nations, to ensure that there are no barriers to refugees and other vulnerable populations in accessing health systems in an effective manner.
As a region that has faced continued conflict for decades now, TBHF will initiate steps to support healthcare providers acrossoccupied Palestine, equipping them with essential supplies required to ease the strain on fragile local healthcare services. In addition, The Big Heart Secondary School for the hearing impaired in the Palestinian city of Qalqilya in the West Bank, which was converted into a quarantine centre since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis for symptomatic residents and those who have tested positive for the virus, will be supported with all essential medical supplies.
Healthcare providers including general practitioners, nurses, referral officers, and internists at all clinics in the Zaatari camp in Jordan including The Big Heart Clinic, will receive essential supplies and medical equipment to increase the camp’s COVID-19 response readiness in protecting its 75,000 residents.
The vast Kutupalong-Balukhali camp, home to some 700,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, is another identified beneficiary of the newly launched campaign. It will help support healthcare providers at all clinics built on the campsite to assist tens of thousands of refugees.
The initiative will also support healthcare providers in ramping up efforts for surveillance for COVID-19, case management and infection prevention and control at the Kakuma Camp in Kenya, while also help in speeding up rehabilitation work in the Big Heart clinic at the camp.
In Lebanon, the campaign aims to boost capacity for healthcare providers through providing essential supplies for health care centers assisting refugees.
‘Now’ is the time to demonstrate the seriousness of our collective endeavours
Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi confirmed that the campaign and its goals are in line with the COVID-19 response efforts and directions of the UAE, represented in providing all possible forms of support to those in need during these trying times, saying: “We are furthering the efforts our country and our leadership, which has demonstrated exceptional readiness and capability in extending its support to those near and far to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of their communities.”
“We take pride in our UAE community, that has always shown solidarity with those in need. Every individual matters and plays an important role in our society, which is why supporting the people who have been affected by this pandemic the most, regardless of race or nationality, is our civic duty, for they are all part of our UAE community.
Her Highness continued: “The world today needs to join hands and cooperate more than ever to enhance the ability of each and every community worldwide to face this pandemic. If we seek to build a human society that shares dreams, concerns, and a common destiny, then now is the time to demonstrate the seriousness of our collective endeavours. What we do today will be immortalized in the memories of people and determine the future of societies’ relations with each other in the times ahead.”