UAE-funded camp offers refuge to fleeing Syrians

Camp at Mrajeeb Al Fhood will be able to house 25,000 people and offer schooling to 2,000 youngsters.

DUBAI // A UAE-funded refugee camp will offer people fleeing the violence in Syria safety and stability.

The UAE Red Crescent Authority’s (RCA) newly opened camp will have two schools and hospitals and gives refugees caravans to live in instead of tents.

By September this year, up to 2,000 pupils will be able to attend lessons at the camp in Mrajeeb Al Fhood, 37 kilometres from the Syrian border.

“The curriculum is in line with the Jordanian curriculum,” said RCA’s chairman, Ahmed Al Mazrouei, at a workshop in Dubai yesterday, which was held to review the governance of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) that oversees national societies such as the RCA.

“There will be two schools, one for boys and one for girls. It will have first grade to high school. They can take in 2,000 students. If there is a need, they will open two shifts and it will be open to 4,000 students. We can open more schools, if needed.

“There is landscaping, football fields, there are caravans, not tents. There are kitchens and as a refugee you don’t cook. You can get your meals delivered to your door.”

Phase one of the camp opened at an initial cost of Dh26 million. Once finished it will house up to 25,000 refugees, easing the pressure on the massive Zaatari camp.

Mr Al Mazrouei said the camp was “strong proof” of the commitment the UAE made to Syrian refugees at the International Donors Conference for Syria in Kuwait in January, where the Emirates pledged Dh1.1?billion in aid.

The RCA has so far spent more than Dh50 million.

It is estimated that 70,000 people have been killed and more than one million forced to flee to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan as result of the conflict. Three million refugees are expected to leave Syria by the end of the year.

Mr Al Mazrouei said: “An average of 2,000 to 3,000 people are coming to the Jordanian border a day. There is a demand to invest in humanitarian assistance. That’s not easy because you always need funds. You have to have strong relations with donors and use technology to collect money online.

“A camp is a lot of commitment and we are very committed to what we are doing. The UAE is keen to stand on the side of humanitarian assistance because we know there is a need.”

Mr Al Mazrouei said an overhaul of the workings of the IFRC could benefit organisations like the RCA. “With more transparency in rules, regulations and financial figures in the IFRC, it will gain more trust of donors, increase efficiency of aid delivery and coordination between national societies,” he said.

National societies from Qatar, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Malaysia, UAE, Sudan, Italy and Austria were  at yesterday's event.