Sheikha Fatima's donation reflects UAE's aid leadership

The refugee crisis that exploded in 2015 may attract fewer headlines today, but it is not resolved


A Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat during the rescue of 147 illegal immigrants attempting to reach Europe off the coastal town of Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli, on June 27, 2017.
More than 8,000 migrants have been rescued in waters off Libya during the past 48 hours in difficult weather conditions, Italy's coastguard said on June 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Taha JAWASHI

Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation,  has donated $1 million to the Fund for Refugee Women, a gift that shines a light on a persistent global issue at a moment when many other nations are averting their eyes. "The UAE's refugee aid policy reflects the values of tolerance, love and brotherhood between peoples," said Sheikha Fatima on making the award.

On the same day, two Syrian asylum seekers lost their landmark case against the Japanese government to overturn a decision denying them refugee status. The refugee crisis that exploded in 2015 may fetch fewer headlines today, but it is not resolved. And with more people displaced every year by conflict, efforts are required from all nations. As Margaret Bell, Women's Health Medical Adviser at Médecins Sans Frontières, wrote on these pages, women refugees face disproportionate abuse, violence and trauma. Sheikha Fatima's donation will further bolster the UAE's already comprehensive aid programme.

In 2015 alone, more than a million migrants arrived in Europe. Most came from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, braving dangerous waters on crowded dinghies to reach countries where they were too often met with suspicion. Many died at sea. Today the problem is still acute. According to UNHCR, 4,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece already this year. Just last week, at least 15 migrants, including 5 children, drowned trying. Given that the Syrian war – now in its eighth year – has displaced 5.5m people, it has a tragic predictability. The UAE has taken steps to address their plight. According to the UAE Embassy in Washington, this country has provided more than $530m in humanitarian aid and has welcomed more than 100,000 Syrians since 2011. There is, of course, still work to be done.

In Asia, some 68,000 Rohingya refugees are confined to Bangladeshi refugee camps, too afraid to return to Myanmar. From Venezuela to the DRC, civilians are fleeing economic stagnation, violence and repression. As Sheikh Fatima said yesterday, the international community must shoulder its humanitarian responsibilities. It is encouraging that the UAE, for its part, it trying to do so.