The award aims to be a ray of hope for every refugee and displaced person in the world
The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), the Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, has received 242 nominations from 52 countries for the fourth edition of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA).
Of the total number of nominations received 49 per cent were from Africa, 44 per cent from Asia, 5 per cent from Europe and 2 per cent from other countries worldwide.
TBHF organises the award annually in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, to recognise the unparalleled efforts of local humanitarian outfits across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, who have gone beyond the provision of emergency relief to have a positive and sustainable impact on the lives of numerous families and children by improving their access to food, health, psychological support and quality education.
Jordan tops the nominations list with 24 entries, followed by 19 from the Republic of Kenya and 18 from Uganda. Then comes Nigeria with 17 nominations, while the USA and Cameroon have sent in 11 applications each, and Pakistan is represented by 10 nominations. TBHF has received between four to eight nominations from Britain, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Afghanistan, Turkey and South Africa.
SIARA’s award money of Dhs500,000 (US$136,000) is a special contribution by TBHF and does not represent any share of the donations made to the foundation.
TBFH had earlier announced that the award which previously covered only organisations operating in the Asia, Middle East and North Africa regions, had expanded its reach to include entities across the entire African continent. The move was intended to bring stronger global attention towards the serious humanitarian situation in Africa, as the continent supports more than 26 per cent of the world’s 70.8 million refugees, with its limited infrastructure and resources.
70m flee war
Recent UNHCR statistics show that the number of people fleeing wars, persecution and conflict exceeded 70.8 million in 2018. The agency noted that this was the highest number recorded in 70 years since UNHCR’s inception. In one year between 2017 – 18, the number of refugees and displaced persons worldwide bumped up by 2.2 million.
According to reports of international organisations involved in aid and rehabilitation efforts, the majority of refugees live in countries with limited resources and infrastructure gaps, which negatively impacted not only lives of refugees but also host communities.
“The Big Heart Foundation is committed to raising the standard of humanitarian relief work,” said Mariam Al Hammadi, TBHF Director, reiterating that SIARA has been founded to offer both monetary and moral support to committed, innovation-driven humanitarian outfits, to enhance their capabilities to address the pressing challenges that arise from conflicts and crisis across the world.
“The large number of nominations we have received this year testify to the importance the global humanitarian community attaches to this international award, which was born from Sharjah’s passion to advocate for the rights of refugees and their host communities as well as recognise the efforts of those who help and support them. The award aims to be a ray of hope for every refugee and displaced person in the world; SIARA is our message to them that reads ‘we are here standing by you and working hard for your future’,” she further noted.
Al Hammadi said that expanding the scope of the award to include the African continent and receiving nominations for the first time directly on the TBHF website, has resulted in an increase in the number of nominations from organisations.
The sixth edition will be open for entries and nominations until November 15. Held under the patronage of the Sharjah Ruler the Dhs500,000 Award targets humanitarian organisations who have offered outstanding services to refugees and forcibly displaced people.
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