'Images haunt me': UAE residents race to donate, help Palestinians in Gaza

At the Abu Dhabi Ports Hall in Mina Zayed, volunteers worked from 9am to pack thousands of kilograms of aid


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sun 15 Oct 2023, 4:31 PM

Last updated: Mon 16 Oct 2023, 10:54 AM

On Sunday, Camelia Zainal Baqer Moheibi coordinated two pickup trucks to drive down to Abu Dhabi and deliver several boxes of aid as a personal contribution to the UAE campaign to collect aid for Palestinians stuck in Gaza.

“As soon as I heard of the campaign, I knew that I wanted to contribute,” she said. “I had a lot of stock of children’s clothes from my business. We also have a supermarket from where I added in some canned goods, candles, blankets and other essential items to the aid we were dropping off. This is the least I could do to help.”

Camelia was thankful for the opportunity to help and went the extra mile by offering space in her truck to anyone who wanted to send aid. “Not everyone has the convenience to drive to Abu Dhabi and drop off items so I offered transport to whoever wanted to send things but couldn’t,” she said. “Also, I am proud to be an Emirati, a country that always races to help and provide aid to those who need it the most.”

Camelia is one of the hundreds of UAE residents who came together to help with the initiative titled ‘Compassion for Gaza’ spearheaded by Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), that is aiming to send necessities to those in besieged city of Gaza. At the Abu Dhabi Ports Hall in Mina Zayed, volunteers worked from 9am to pack thousands of kilograms of aid.

Outside the hall, there were hundreds of packets of essentials as people raced to contribute to those in a city that has been bombed heavily since Hamas launched an offensive attack on October 7.

Long queues

Inside the hall, long queues of volunteers waited patiently for their turn to help with the packing of care boxes. They had to follow a simple registration process and were called based on the time they registered. A new batch of helpers was called in every 45 minutes.

One volunteer, who did not wish to be identified, turned up at the hall at around 2.30pm in her work uniform. “I just finished my shift and took a taxi to get here,” she said. “I didn’t have the time to go home and change but I did not want to miss out on this opportunity to help. The images from Gaza have been haunting me and this is all I can do to help.”

Some people came alone while others came with their whole families. Many wore the ethnic Palestinian black and white scarves in solidarity with the country. Those who wished to contribute in cash could also do so at one of the counters.

Packing for a cause

After a briefing, some of the volunteers lined up on either side of long tables packing items while others helped with packing the cartons of items and putting on the necessary stickers.

Children as young as 4 accompanied their parents to help with the initiative. Some of them tiptoed to put items into the boxes while others were lifted by their parents so they could help.

The packed items included hygiene products like toothbrush, shampoo and sanitary napkins as well as canned food items, biscuits, baby food and blankets. According to ERC, more collection points will be announced across the country over the coming days.

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