$100 000 Dedicated from Sharjah to the Unsung Heroes of Refugees

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Syrian refugee Asmaa holds her 6-month old baby Osman while her 5-year-old boy Abdul-Rahman sits beside her. Asmaa and her husband Omar fled their home near Damascus over one and half months ago, travelling through Lebanon then onto Turkey before crossing the Aegean to Greece. The boat they were travelling was heavily overloaded and when the engine cut out they began to take water on-board. In a bid to stay afloat everyone decided to throw their luggage overboard. Omar and Asmaa lost everything including their passports and the little amount of money they had in cash. In recent weeks huge numbers of refugees, many of them hailing from Syria and Afghanistan have been crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey to Greece. The Island of Lesbos is the main landing point and thousands of people are now clogging the Islands’ main cities and ports as they look for ways to continue their journey onto the mainland and towards the Balkans. The crossings are fraught we danger as boats are overloaded and usually captain-less.

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In a first-of-its-kind effort to recognise people’s outstanding efforts to the forcibly displaced people in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the ‘Sharjah International Award ‎for Refugee Advocacy & Support’, a $100,000 humanitarian award, was launched by The Ruling family of Sharjah, the third largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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HH Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi during her visit to Al-Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan (Archive image) ( ...

HH Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi during her visit to Al-Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan (Archive image) (Photo: Business Wire)

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children and Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), launched the award as a tribute to those who have worked relentlessly to improve the lives of millions of refugees and displaced families.

“Once every year, the Sharjah International Award ‎for Refugee Advocacy & Support will recognise an individual’s or organisation’s enduring commitment to ending the suffering of refugees. Through its recipients, the award aims to build a legacy of selfless perseverance that will inspire greater numbers to bring a smile to the faces of those displaced by war and crises,” said Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi.

“The award is a reaffirmation of the UAE’s continued commitment to global philanthropy, and has been set up as a continuation of the approach of goodness and philanthropy as established by the nation’s munificent leaders,” Her Highness added.

The award, launched under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, will be organised by TBHF and UNHCR, and will highlight how the work of certain people has instilled confidence and hope in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of refugees through provision of food, shelter, healthcare, education and social solutions.

The General Secretariat of the Sharjah International Award ‎for Refugee Advocacy & Support welcomes award entries from across the globe, for relief work carried out for refugees only in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Efficient management of financial and human capital, good governance, and transparency and accountability during the implementation of humanitarian work will be the award’s special focus areas. An annual orientation programme for individuals and organisations outlining the award’s vision, goals and terms of participation will also be organised.

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