Sharjah: The Big Heart Foundation (BHF) has pledged to donate US $350,000.00 towards two UNHCR projects to help displaced Syrian families and children seeking refuge in Lebanon and Iraq. The first US $250,000.00 will go towards UNHCR’s “Warm their Hearts” campaign that will provide winter aid to over 400 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, who are in desperate need of support and assistance. The second US $100,000.00 will go towards UNHCR’s work in Iraq to help around 300,000 displaced Syrian refugee families living in Iraq and provide necessary aid to help them survive tough weather conditions.
Mariam al Hammadi, Director of Salam Ya Seghar, a TBHF initiative to improve the welfare of refugee children, said, “These two pledges will go towards helping Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Iraq to ensure they are able to live through the harsh winter conditions as well as can be expected. We at TBHF were swift in our response to the extreme winter weather conditions that have recently swept the area. In Lebanon and Iraq temperatures can go as low as minus 15 degree centigrade, and displaced Syrian refugees struggle to survive these conditions, with some forced to live in temporary accommodation that are no more than flimsy huts and makeshift shelters.”
Al Hammadi went on to say that the relief winter programme will provide the necessities such as thermal blankets, stoves, kerosene and also cash assistance to those living in vulnerable socio-economic conditions, adding, “ It’s very hard for refugee families and the children in particular to survive tough winter conditions. Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation, and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, The Big Heart Foundation is dedicated to helping Syrian refugees lead a life of dignity by providing them relief and sustainable support.”
The UNHCR’s “Warm their Heart” campaign addresses the winter needs of approximately 463,750 refugees, which is about 39% of the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon. TBHF donation of USD 250,000 will help 417 refugee families and ensure they receive all the essentials they need to survive harsh winter conditions. The campaign will first provide assistance to 100,000 of the most vulnerable refugees and includes assistance in the form of cash and shelter. It will also provide a winter survival kit that includes five blankets, three high thermal blankets, a heating stove, gas bottle and four months of gas supply. In Iraq, TBHF will donate USD 100,000 to UNHCR’s programme which will help around 300 vulnerable refugee families in need of life-saving support.
The UNHCR’s winter plan in Iraq will provide winter assistance to 26,400 households or 132,000 refugees, which is approximately 53% of the Syrian refugee population living in Iraq. UNHCR’s winter assistance in Iraq will be divided into two, 60% will be provided to families and individuals living in refugee camps and it will give assistance in the form of tent insulation, deliver emergency supplies and core winter relief items such as plastic sheeting, jerry can, one stove and kerosene to each household. The rest of UNHCR’s winter assistance will be unconditional cash support to socio-economically vulnerable Syrian refugee families and individuals living outside camps.
Four years of internal conflict in Syria has displaced four million people and caused them to flee to surrounding countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. Within Syria itself, 7.6 million people have had to flee their homes and seek shelter elsewhere in the country. Altogether, over half of the population in Syria has been forced to leave their homes.
In May 2013, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appointed Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher as UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, one of the most distinguished positions in international humanitarianism. Her Highness’ commitment to alleviating the suffering of women and children affected by war, persecution and disaster and her eagerness to launch life-saving and life-changing initiatives, mobilise humanitarian support and secure financial resources for refugees, led to this appointment.
The Big Heart Foundation has provided life-saving medical services to over 365,000 Syrian refugees and gave more than 400,000 others vital food and financial aid. During the colder winter months in Syria and its neighbouring countries of Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon TBHF provided basic essentials to children and their families such as warm shelters, blankets and clothing.