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Sharjah is always ready to support refugees: Sheikh Sultan

Sharjah - This year's Dh500,000 Siara prize was awarded to Kenyan community RefuSHE.


Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Sun 20 Jun 2021, 4:50 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Jun 2021, 9:49 AM

The Sharjah Ruler on Sunday vowed that the emirate would always be ready to extend a helping hand to refugees around the world — so that love and justice may prevail.

His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, shared a message of hope for a better, kinder world as the winner of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (Siara) was announced during a virtual event.

This year’s Dh500,000 Siara prize was awarded to RefuSHE, a Nairobi-based humanitarian agency founded in 2008 to address the significant, unmet need for child and girl-focused refugee services in Kenya.

“Sharjah will always be steadfast with building on the values of cooperation and partnership to create a world where love and justice will always prevail. In our religion, as in our Arab culture, standing by the vulnerable and people in need is a duty, not a choice. It is also a daily responsibility and not a sporadic reaction,” Sheikh Dr Sultan said at the awarding ceremony for Siara 2021, organised by the Sharjah-based global humanitarian organisation The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF). The virtual event coincided with World Refugee Day.

Coinciding with World Refugee Day, the Siara event also saw the participation of Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF and senior officials.

Hailing how humanitarian organisations have been creating a culture of compassion, Sheikh Dr Sultan said: “Those who carry out good deeds and sincerely help those in need, contribute to shaping a culture of empathy, compassion and cohesion in their communities. Based on this tenet, humanitarian organisations deserve every bit of society’s support and must be provided everything they need to execute key humanitarian programmes and initiatives. It is because these entities open the door of hope for the forcibly displaced and are a trusted place for anyone seeking to carry out humanitarian work.”

Special Dh1.1m grant awarded to 3 non-profits

Besides the main Dh500,000 prize, Siara has for the first time granted another Dh1.1 million prize divided equally to the three entities short-listed for the award.

TBHF collaborated with the UAE-based women’s empowerment entity Nama Women Advancement Establishment (Nama) to create the special prize.

The TBHF-Nama grant went to RefuShe from Kenya; International Network for Aid Relief and Assistance (INARA), which works for forcibly displaced children and youth in Lebanon and Turkey; and The Lotus Flower from Kurdistan, Iraq, which economically empower vulnerable women and girls at the grass roots through innovative projects.

“Sharjah, as you know, is deeply committed to working collaboratively in order to promote efforts to support human beings in distress. To this end, Nama Women Advancement Establishment has partnered with TBHF to fund this exceptional special grant, as the projects of the nominees align with Nama’s vision to enable communities by empowering women, girls and youth,” Al Hammadi said.

The selection committee for the 2021 edition of Siara comprised TBHF and UNHCR representatives; Professor Kevin Mitchel, Chancellor of the American University of Sharjah; and Petrina Shee, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Dignity for Children Foundation, past winner of Siara.

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