Leading the way on the refugee crisis

A member of the UAE Red Cresent speaks with a Syrian refugee. Wam
A member of the UAE Red Cresent speaks with a Syrian refugee. Wam

Less than a week after the opening of one of the two UAE-sponsored refugee camps in Greece, this country has announced its plan to host 15,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. The UAE will be the first country in the Gulf to host Syrian refugees.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, put is succinctly when he tweeted: “Repercussions of the war in Syria will continue for years to come. The human toll and suffering is unprecedented. The UAE affirms its commitment.”

This move should not be surprising, as the UAE is a generous donor to humanitarian cause and has expressed its support for the people of Syria since day one of the conflict raging for more than five years. The Government announced during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May that it will double its contributions by 2020 and allocate 15 per cent of its projected budget to provide assistance to the most vulnerable and needy in the world.

After funding humanitarian programmes in refugee camps elsewhere, hosting Syrians in this country is a logical next step. Almost 5 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and 6.6 million have been displaced within Syria, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Over the past five years, the UAE has provided more than US$750 million. It has also been supporting efforts by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.

The Emirates Red Crescent has always been there, setting up refugee camps and distributing money, clothes, food and water, as well as books and supplies for schoolchildren.

These efforts have been recognised by many world leaders, most recently Andre Vallini, the French minister of state for development, who applauded the “tremendous efforts” made by the UAE in the field of humanitarian aid.

The decision to host Syrian refugees confirms the UAE’s commitment to develop its aid programmes and adapt to new realities. The prolonging of the refugee crisis has meant that more and more countries have to step up to the plate, and the UAE has set a good example for countries in this region to follow. The responsibility for displaced persons is a shared one.

Published: September 24, 2016 04:00 AM

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