UNHCR honours Jawaher Al Qasimi’s humanitarian leadership; renews confidence in her as Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children


Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Sharjah Ruler, Chairperson of  The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, has highlighted that the refugee crisis is the most pressing humanitarian issue, and has the worst impact on displaced children left vulnerable to the harsh circumstances of life in asylum.

The statement came on the sidelines of a UNHCR officiating ceremony organized on Thursday (August 26) to reappoint Her Highness as an Eminent Advocate. With this renewal of confidence, HH Sheikha Jawaher completes a decade-long journey in this significant role which she took up in 2013 as the UNHCR’s first Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children to use her global position and influence to increase public awareness about refugees and the work of UNHCR, with a focus on children.

The virtual event, broadcasted on Sharjah TV and all social media platforms of TBHF, was attended by Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; Houssam Chahine, Chief of Private Sector Partnerships for MENA at UNHCR; global humanitarian leaders, as well as a group of refugees and internally displaced peoples who have received the support of Her Highness.

Her Highness addressed the gathering: “In many regions around the globe, people amongst us are searching for a homeland after they were forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods due to conflict. They are labelled refugees. Some of them have never understood the concept of homeland or what it means to belong. To date, nearly 79 million have been displaced for various reasons. Every one of them carries a story of displacement and alienation, with no end in sight for their misery. To change these realities, we need to identify the reasons for such displacement and work collaboratively on a global level to address them.”

Her Highness added that the on-going COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the struggles of these vulnerable populations by hindering their access to essential services like healthcare, and requires concerted global efforts to overcome.

Sheikha Jawaher’s generosity has touched lives of one million refugees and IDPs worldwide        

Filippo Grandi noted that Sheikha Jawaher’s humanitarian leadership – be it in advancing the standards of global humanitarian action, advocating for the rights of the displaced, or ensuring the successful implementation of both vital emergency relief and long-term projects – HH’s exemplary generosity and personal moral support have touched the lives of more than a million refugees and IDPs in more than 20 countries, especially women and children.

“Refugees around the world are facing enormous challenges, of the 80 million forcibly displaced people 85% are hosted in developing countries that are themselves struggling to meet the needs of their citizens, especially as we collectively battle COVID-19. In 2020 Sheikha Jawaher made invaluable contributions in the wake of three crises: the COVID-19 pandemic the Beirut blast, and the floods in Sudan. I’m therefore most grateful that her Highness has accepted the invitation to renew her Eminent Advocate title.”

Helping humans wherever they are

A video highlighting the humanitarian journey of Sheikha Jawaher since she was named UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children was played at the event, and featured glowing testimonials by notable officials, community figures and refugee beneficiaries who spoke about Her Highnesses’ humanitarian vision and philanthropic contributions.

The video also captured snippets of Sheikha Jawaher’s humanitarian visits to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and other nations, and highlighted the work done by TBHF in the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan. It featured glimpses of the relief efforts undertaken by Sheikha Jawaher’s ‘Salam Beirut’ campaign in aiding the victims of the Lebanon Port explosion, and also turned to Iraq where Her Highness extended vital support to the victims of the Mosul crisis.

The video also showed the success of Her Highness’s directives to rehabilitate schools and hospitals, and offer monetary support to families and women in Egypt; the rehabilitation of 12 schools and establishment of a community centre in Syria; and the psychological support offered to women in refugee camps in Turkey.

Jawaher Al Qasimi driving long-term development in Asia and Africa

Sheikha Jawaher’s humanitarian work has spanned continents. In Asia, TBHF, under HH’s directives, supported thousands of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and Bangladesh, with both emergency aid and long-term humanitarian projects. In neighbouring Pakistan, Her Highness took female Afghan refugees under her wing by renovating and fully equipping four vocational training centres for them, and building a community centre.

More recently in the continent of Africa, Sheikha Jawaher issued a directive to rehabilitate a healthcare centre and construct a school for girls in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, while in Sudan, Her Highness mobilized efforts to provide shelters to people impacted by the 2020 floods. In neighbouring Somalia, Her Highness extended vital healthcare services to refugees escaping conflict in the nation.

UNHCR Eminent Advocate fills the vulnerable with hope for a bright future

The commemorative video featured an emotional segment, rounding up heartfelt messages of hope from those whose lives have been touched over the years by Her Highness’s humanitarian endeavours. Beneficiaries of TBHF’s programmes in Pakistan, Jordan, Kenya and Sudan all came together to assert that the programmes allowed them access to both basic amenities and special tools with which they are empowering the futures of their families.