Donations needed to help Syrian women refugees

The Sharjah-based Big Heart Campaign said help is urgently needed to support women who have escaped the conflict in their home country after a new UN report found many are struggling 'to put food on the table'.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development, tours a Big Heart Campaign-supported health clinic at Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan.  J. Kohler /UNHCR
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development, tours a Big Heart Campaign-supported health clinic at Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. J. Kohler /UNHCR

DUBAI // UAE residents have been urged to step out of the “bubble” of their daily lives and do more to aid Syrian women refugees who face a daily battle to survive and keep their families together.

The Sharjah-based Big Heart Campaign said help was urgently needed to support women who had escaped the conflict in their home country after a UN report found many were struggling “to put food on the table”.

Amna Al Mazmi, marketing coordinator of the Big Heart Campaign, said: “These women, when they left their country, were stripped of everything except the clothes on their backs.

“Women make up half of the community and they are taking care of millions of refugees. They are the caregivers and if you help the women, you are helping the whole family.

“The numbers are huge and the UN or the Big Heart cannot do everything alone. We need every single individual to contribute and ease their suffering.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report Woman Alone: The fight for survival by Syria’s refugee women, is based on the personal accounts of 135 women taken over three months this year.

The report found that more than 145,000 Syrian refugee families in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan – or one in four households – were headed by women. Many of them were fighting for survival, and living under the threat of violence or exploitation, while their children faced mounting trauma and distress.

“Where they are living now, they need food, shelter, clean water and other basic amenities. These camps have become communities and they have been living here for more than two years,” said Ms Al Mazmi, adding people should be generous not just during Ramadan but donate regularly.

“The youth here are ignoring this and living in a bubble. This has to stop. We have to not give donations just once but every other month, even if it is Dh1, Dh100 or Dh1,000. Give whatever you can and spread the message of their suffering to others.”

The Big Heart campaign was launched by Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, the wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and UNHCR advocate for refugee children. The initiative has three phases including medical intervention for 265,000 Syrian refugees and giving more than 400,000 people food and cash aid.

In the second phase, funds were raised to provide shelters, blankets and clothing during the winter months. The third phase, which is continuing, raises money to educate more than 1.2 million children.

Ms Al Mazmi said looking after the needs of children meant focusing on women as well.

Of the women interviewed by the UN, 60 per cent said they felt insecure, while one in three was too scared or overwhelmed even to leave their homes. Many also complained of regular harassment.

More than 2.8 million people have fled Syria, and millions have been internally displaced.

Since the beginning of this year, more than 100,000 have registered in neighbouring countries each month and the total number of Syrian refugees is expected to reach 3.6 million by the end of the year.

pkannan@thenational.ae

Published: July 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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