The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres highlighted and praised the efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children and Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation, for her help and support to refugees throughout the world.Guterres said, "In the true spirit of solidarity, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi's humanitarian service and unfettered commitment to refugees is heartening and commendable. In her capacity as UNHCR Eminent Advocate, she spearheaded initiatives that have served to mobilize support and raise awareness for thousands of refugees. These have made an enormous difference and above all, are inspiring others in the region to give. I have the great honour to celebrate Her Highness' outstanding contribution in supporting the forcibly displaced. Her dedication and leadership will continue to be a guiding example."
He added, "As UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, Her Highness has launched many initiatives to rally support and raise awareness about the issues of thousands of refugees scattered across the world. Her efforts have made a tremendous difference, and more importantly, her ability to inspire others to give more and exert extra effort has contributed to our efforts. It is a great honour for me to recognize Her Highness’s momentous contributions to supporting refugees and displaced people.”The High Commissioner pointed out that Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher’s devotion and leadership will remain as an example to be followed, and stressed that the Big Heart Foundation led one of the most important and successful campaigns dedicated to refugee children on the global level.
During the meeting, Guterres presented the UNHCR Advocacy Award to Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi in recognition and appreciation of her efforts to alleviate the suffering of families and children affected by wars and conflicts, and her eagerness to launch initiatives to raise awareness about refugee issues and secure the financial resources needed to provide humanitarian aid worldwide. The High Commissioner asked Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi to continue in her post as UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children and to carry on leading the way in advocacy and support for refugees caught up in the MENA humanitarian crisis.
The High Commissioner conveyed this message when he welcomed Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi at the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on the second anniversary of her appointment as UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children.Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi was received at UNHCR headquarters by Antonio Guterres, UNHCR High Commissioner and senior staff members from UNHCR. Firas Kayyal, Senior External Relation Officer at UNHCR, praised Her Highness and The Big Heart Foundation for their direct involvement and monitoring of projects that were jointly launched, as well as Her Highness's commitment to providing assistance to all refugees in MENA.
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi said, “I’d like to express my profound appreciation for the role played by UNHCR in highlighting the plight of refugees and assisting them to overcome the challenges of displacement. Instability throughout the world and in MENA has led to large numbers of refugees who are faced with a myriad of problems which they are able to tackle and overcome with the invaluable assistance provided by UNHCR and its partners. I call for a concerted effort to address the plight of refugees and to help ease the burden on the host countries.”Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi added that finding a better way of living and a dignified life for refugees requires support and assistance to the host countries and securing budgets for relief operations. The action taken against refugee smuggling networks should not affect the security and safety of refugees themselves, as they often have no choice but to flee to escape death, as they fear for their lives, they risk all on dangerous vessels in search of refuge.Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi underlined the importance of education and knowledge for refugee children and said the issue needs to be a priority for the leaders of the region and the world in order to ensure the future of children is not left hanging in the balance or they may fall prey to conflicts and international inaction.“Advocating for the rights of children and helping the needy stems from the values of philanthropy, kindness and compassion, which are characteristics that distinguish the UAE and Arab community. These are values that were laid down by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was a unique humanitarian leader that we all learned from and follow,” said Her Highness.
Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi reiterated that she would always remain a supporter and advocate for the issues of refugee children and people in need across the world, and noted that the mission has not yet reached completion; that what has been achieved is but a fragment compared to the magnitude of the prolonged ordeal of refugees worldwide.Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi discussed with the High Commissioner for Refugees and UNHCR prominent officials the current refugee situation in light of recent developments in the Arab region, as well as wars and natural disasters across the globe. A short documentary was shown during the meeting highlighting the achievements of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi since Her Highness's appointment as Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children. The UNHCR praised the Big Heart Foundation's contributions that have provided life-saving medical services to over 365,000 Syrian refugees and given more than 400,000 others vital food and financial aid. During the colder winter months, the Foundation provided basic essentials to children and their families, and education to 1.2 million Syrian refugee children.
In 2013 and 2014, the Foundation implemented several projects and initiatives, including providing healthcare services valued at AED 7.3 million for 106,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq. The Foundation launched healthcare programs in Jordan for 150,000 Syrian refugees at a cost of AED 18.4 million. The Big Heart Foundation created a clinic in Zaatri for the refugee children and families. As well as providing aid worth AED 753 000 for children, infants and the elderly. The Foundation has also provided healthcare services worth AED11 million to 10,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and a healthcare project costing AED3.7 million in Syria for 9,150 refugees. It also provided AED 6.6 in Eid Al Fitr for 60,000 refugees.Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi was accompanied by HE Noura Al Noman, Director General of Her Highness Executive Office, Erum Mazhar, Advisor at Her Highness Executive Office, and Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of Salam Ya Seghar.
In May 2013, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, appointed Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi as UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children in recognition of her outstanding efforts to raise public awareness about the problems faced by refugees and about the work of the UN Agency, with a focus on children.The award signifies the international recognition of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher's commitment to alleviating the suffering of women and children affected by wars and disasters, and her eagerness to launch life-saving and life-changing initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the issues of refugees, mobilizing humanitarian support and securing financial resources, most notably the Big Heart Foundation.