Sultan Al Qasimi Witnesses the Awarding Ceremony of first Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support

His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, emphasised the importance of boosting cooperation between humanitarian organisations to relieve the suffering of women and children and to provide those affected by war to conflicts with the basic elements of well-being until their plight is over.

His Highness’s call came during the awarding ceremony of the first winner of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support, with the award given to Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) in Yemen. It was bestowed to the foundation in recognition of its efforts in supporting Yemini refugees and those in the country who have been forcibly displaced during its ongoing conflict.

The awarding ceremony was held in the presence of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children and Kelly T. Clements, Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Of the 65 million people who are uprooted across the globe, about one-third are under 18 years of age and half have moved to places of safety within their own countries. More than 25 million people have been displaced from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Palestine, and Libya among others with five million of these having refugee status.” said His Highness.

“We are gathered here today to support The Big Heart Foundation in its first edition of the Sharjah International Award, which has been won by Sustainable Development Foundation. The foundation has provided health care, education and a safe environment to more than two million displaced Yemenis who are in urgent need of help,” added His Highness.

On the side-lines of the awarding ceremony, His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi and His Highness’s wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, met Kelly T. Clements, Deputy UNHCR and Asia Al Mashriqi, Director of SDF, who both gave overviews of the harsh conditions faced by refugees in their respective areas of concern. During the meeting, His Highness underlined the need to strengthen cooperation between humanitarian organisations to alleviate the suffering of women and children, providing essential elements of a decent life for all those affected by war and unrest.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi said: “The Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support honours humanitarian effort.  We hope this will further motivate individuals and organisations who work with refugees. The award also is in keeping with the vision and instructions of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi, which stresses the need for humanitarian solidarity and calls to entrench the values of goodness, love and peace in our society as well as building a secure and brighter future for all.”

“The award highlights the strong joint collaboration between the Big Heart Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The latter’s efforts are instrumental in organising aid supplies and extending bridges of communication with various international humanitarian organisations to achieve the highest level of joint action and coordination in helping refugees,” Her Highness added.

Kelly T. Clements, Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, praised the pioneering initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan and his wife Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi and said: “Under the Big Heart Foundation’s leadership, the Sharjah International Award provides an important platform to pay tribute to the unsung humanitarian champions throughout the region that work tirelessly to support and protect those who have been forcibly displaced.”

Clements added, “On behalf of UNHCR, I congratulate the Sustainable Development Foundation for being the first ever recipient of the Sharjah International Award in recognition of their unrelenting dedication to supporting the victims of forced displacement in Yemen through the provision of live-saving aid at a time when Yemen is experiencing unprecedented levels of insecurity, instability and human suffering. The foundation’s courage and humanitarian commitment, amidst the ongoing challenges in the country, is truly remarkable and will undoubtedly inspire others to follow.”

“I would like to express my sincere thanks on behalf of the Sustainable Development Foundation for being awarded as the winner of the first Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support. The kind of suffering that the people of Yemen are experiencing is significant. Around 18.8 million people need assistance and around 10 million are in need of help. Our foundation is keen to partner with organisations such as The Big Heart Foundation to create hope,” said Asia Al Mashraqi, Director of SDF.

Al Mashraqi announced the allocation of the cash prize of US$100,000 to restore hope to some patients with kidney failure in Yemen through the purchase of dialysis units, which will ease the suffering of thousands of patients and help save lives. She said that the award, which bears the name of Sharjah, would become the ‘award for hope and life’.”

During the ceremony, a documentary film was shown featuring the award’s vision and goals and highlighting the immense efforts of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, in the field of humanitarian work. Another documentary was shown featuring SDF’s efforts to support and advocate refugees that culminated with the foundation being honoured with the Sharjah Award.

Organised by TBHF – a global charity organisation dedicated to helping refugees and people in need – the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support is hosted in collaboration with UNHCR to recognise and pay tribute to individuals and organisations who have implemented effective and influential initiatives to advocate and support refugees in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

SDF was founded in 2003 by a group of Yemeni volunteers to achieve the goals of sustainable development and to respond swiftly to the humanitarian needs of affected people in the country. In the past two years, SDF has implemented an array of outstanding initiatives and projects which have improved the lives of tens of thousands of people, especially women and children, in nine Yemeni districts.

The initiatives focused mainly on providing refugees and displaced persons with access to clean water, food, child protection, education and energy, as well as promoting opportunities for sustainable livelihoods. SDF aims to contribute to peace building and justice and create a safe and healthy environment for vulnerable people in Yemen.

His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi’s patronage of the Sharjah Humanitarian Award reflects his keenness to advance humanitarian work across the world and to support all efforts and initiatives aimed at improving the lives of millions of people living under severe conditions as a result of wars and natural disasters, in particular refugees and families displaced from their homes. The launch of the award – the first of its kind in the region – forms part of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi’s ongoing efforts and endeavours to encourage individuals and organisations from across the world to contribute to improving the living conditions of refugees and displaced persons.