UAE volunteers stress importance of helping Gazans hit by war

Thousands attend latest event of Compassion for Gaza campaign

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Thousands of volunteers attended the latest event of the UAE's Compassion for Gaza campaign on Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi.

Volunteers packed into the Mina Zayed port to prepare urgent relief packages.

Initiatives like this make it feel like there is still good in the world
Abdulla Hamada

The National spoke to some of the volunteers who had given up their free time to help with the campaign, under which more than 60,000 relief packages have been sent to Gaza so far.

Abdulla Hamada, who is from Gaza, was among the volunteers in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

He lost his sister, his brother-in-law and their four children to the war 10 days ago.

His sister was at home their home in Gaza when it was bombed.

"It is hard, very hard," he said.

"But initiatives like this make it feel like there is still good in the world."

Mr Hamada came to the UAE in 2021 soon after his mother died from Covid.

"In times of war, we [Palestinians] all gather in one room so that if we die, we die together and if we survive, then we live together," he said.

"It is a blessing that all my sister's children died with them. How would they have survived without their parents if they have lived? And I know for a fact that my sister would not have survived without them.

"She would have prayed for death if she had survived and they had not. I know that she is in a better place, with her husband and children around her.

"They will pray for us in heaven."

More than 11,000 people have been killed by Israeli air and artillery strikes in Gaza since war was declared on Hamas following the killing of about 1,400 people in Israel, in addition to the taking of more than 200 hostages last month.

“God gave me two hands for a reason. I lack the words to describe what is happening right now in Gaza, but if there is anything I can do to help, then I'll do it,” said Hugh Richards, 18, from the US, who is studying at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Families work together to help campaign

Many of the volunteers brought their children along to show them the importance of helping others.

Saleh Abdullah from India had his three children, Omar, six, Mariam, eight, and Abdullah, 10, with him on Sunday morning at the collection.

“I want them to feel and know what it is like to volunteer. Whatever is happening now [in Gaza] is wrong," he said.

Emirati Fatima Al Zaabi and her husband Sulaiman Al Shehhi brought their three children aged 10, eight and six with them.

“It is important for them to understand the importance of volunteering and to help others,” Ms Al Zaabi said.

“I want to help the people of Gaza,” her daughter Amal said.

The campaign is supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in co-operation with the Emirates Red Crescent Authority and the World Food Programme, in co-ordination with the Ministry of Community Development.

Also at the event was Rashid Mubarak Al Mansouri, acting secretary general for local affairs at the Emirates Red Crescent.

He explained how getting supplies to Gazans was crucial, especially with winter approaching.

“We have entrusted a team in Egypt with the tasks of purchasing all the needs related to winter aid," he said.

"This includes heating equipment, blankets, winter clothes, food supplies, children’s supplies. [It's important] especially since that region witnesses climatic fluctuations annually, accompanied by rain and snow at times."

To date, more than 168,000 tonnes of aid have been successfully sent to Gaza through the Rafah border.

Field hospital on schedule

The UAE is also in the process of setting up a field hospital in the Gaza Strip as casualties continue to mount.

President Sheikh Mohamed ordered the fully equipped hospital to be built as part of the Gallant Knight 3 humanitarian operation, according to state news agency Wam.

Mr Al Mansouri said it was now fully equipped, with discussions under way as to where it will be located.

“The volunteer lists are near completion – there are nurses, anaesthesia specialists, paramedics and everyone from the medical field from every speciality,” said Mr Al Mansouri.

The Compassion for Gaza drive is expected to continue, with anyone interested in volunteering asked to keep an eye on social media channels for updates.

Updated: November 12, 2023, 3:07 PM