Emirates Red Crescent to give out iftar meals

More on UAE and charity: Money goes to tents with iftar dinners, box meals and an alms programme at the end of the month, in addition to Dh21.6m in foreign aid.

Labourers break their fast in a Red Crescent tent after the first day of Ramadan in Mussaffah in 2009. The charity has historically given out about 30,000 iftar meals over the course of the month. Jaime Puebla / The National
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ABU DHABI // As many prepare for shorter working hours, big feasts and religious devotion this Ramadan, the Red Crescent prepares for its busiest time of the year.

Now called Emirates Red Crescent, the charitable organisation works throughout the year supporting orphans, providing medical and financial aid and helping prisoners. But its work doubles during the holy month.

Already, tents have been erected near Red Crescent branches across the country for iftar meals.

Fasting officials will be available to help provide food and other services just before sunset, ensuring everyone has food to break their fast at Maghrib prayer.

Meals are provided to anyone needy or registered at any Red Crescent branch.

"The Red Crescent authority has set Dh15 million for Ramadan programmes inside the country this year," said Rashid Mubarak Al Mansouri, the deputy secretary general of local aid.

Of that amount, Dh6m will be spent on iftar.

"Thousands are expected to benefit from this across the country through Red Crescent branches," he said.

Dh5m is designated for nutritious boxed meals that will be handed out.

In previous years, more than 30,000 meals per day were distributed, and that rate is expected to be sustained this year.

The remaining Dh4m will go towards the Zakat Fitr programme, which benefits thousands of families including widows, orphans and other "weak segments of society".

The Red Crescent will work on getting members of society involved in humanitarian work, "to plant the culture of giving, financial and sentimental".

For Eid, the authority will give out toys, new clothes and meat.

Beyond the UAE, more than Dh21.6m in aid has been dedicated to Ramadan projects in 53 countries.

Countries suffering from natural disasters and political instability have commonly been offered aid by the authority. Other countries with Red Crescent branches are also working to provide for the needy.

Dh1.2m has been set aside for Syrian refugees in Jordanian and Lebanese camps, said Naima Al Maherei, deputy secretary general for relief at the authority.

To prevent misappropriation, the authority has begun to give out food boxes to families directly.

For Palestinians at the camps in Jordan, Yemen, and Lebanon, Dh1.5m in aid will be distributed.

Following Yemen's food crisis, Dh2m was sent to help families there.

Last year the authority managed to reach 1.5m people to provide them with iftar meals abroad, 241,000 benefited from Zakat Fitr, and 65,000 received Eid clothes.

The authority also built 740 mosques, 2,042 water wells, 16 schools and 40 medical clinics throughout the year.