Amel Association International, a non-profit Lebanese organisation, is this year’s recipient of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA). The award is given by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian organisation dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, in collaboration with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The award recognises Amel’s ongoing efforts to implement humanitarian initiatives and support programmes since its creation post the Israeli invasion of Southern Lebanon in 1979. Its beneficiaries have exceeded 100,000 in 2018. More than half of them are women and children.
The non-profit’s founder, Dr. Kamel Mohanna, has also received his fourth Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Amel, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has significantly expanded operations in the last 10 years, establishing itself in France, Switzerland and the US.
SIARA aims to motivate organisations and individuals to launch long-term and
large-scale development programmes and initiatives to improve the lives of refugees and vulnerable people, specifically countries in Asia and the MENA region suffering from disasters, conflicts and poverty.
The award was instituted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness, TBHF Chairperson and UNHCR’s Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children.
The prize money of AED 500,000 (USD 136,000) will be presented to Amel to support and sustain its humanitarian efforts and development programmes, at a special recognition ceremony scheduled to be held in May in Sharjah.
Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “Amel Association International is a fitting recipient for this award. Its support to refugees and vulnerable communities during the Civil War in Lebanon have been exceptional. Their humanitarian intervention has had a positive and sustainable impact on alleviating the sufferings of thousands of refugees. They have not only responded with emergency relief, but played a key role in rebuilding people’s lives in the aftermath, enabling them to establish themselves as active and contributing members of society”.
Al Hammadi added: “Dr. Kamel Mohanna nomination for Nobel Peace Prize 2019 is a tribute to his commitment of over four decades to building essential social projects in various fields, including hospitals and training centres. The association’s non-discriminatory approach to ensuring social justice, promoting human rights and making a positive change in people’s lives is exemplary.”
Toby Harward, Head of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Office in the UAE, said: “Forced displacement needs a strong global response. It is the only way we will be able to offer these vulnerable communities around the world a dignified and safe life. This is what we are striving to achieve in collaboration with our stakeholders, like TBHF. We applaud Amel’s achievements and congratulate them on winning the prestigious SIARA award.”
Dr. Kamel Mohanna, founder of Kamel Association International, thanked His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness, for the honour. He commended the UAE, particularly Sharjah, for their strong commitment to supporting those facing crisis worldwide, and for continually strengthening partnerships with the international stakeholders dedicated to offering aid and rehabilitation support.
Since its inception in 1979, Amel has been working to fulfill its mission to transform the lives of refugees and help vulnerable people of all nationalities in Lebanon without any discrimination through projects that cater to their needs and empower them to contribute to their new communities.
Amel’s portfolio of projects and programmes include healthcare services with more than 250,000 beneficiaries. It’s projects for non-formal education, security and protection (including social empowerment) have helped more than 2,000 children.
The association has provided psychosocial support services to more than 10,000 children and their families, as well as health awareness sessions, child protection, rural development (including handicraft workshops), vocation and career training services. Amel organised courses on human rights, communication skills and conflict resolution for more than 5,000 women. More than 7,000 migrant male and female domestic workers have been provided with legal and social consultations.
With a focus on harnessing the latest technologies to maximise the benefits of their services, Amel uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. It seeks to implement largescale innovative projects that have a sustainable and positive impact on the lives of the beneficiaries. One of those is the ‘Mobile Educational Unit’, an initiative commonly referred to as ‘Amel’s Bus’, which makes daily rounds of the informal tented settlement (ITSs) offering non-formal education and assistance to Syrian child refugees living in Lebanon.
As a solution to the increasing number of Syrian, Palestinian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, which has led to severe shortages in services and infrastructure inefficiency, Amel has successfully implemented many mobile and fixed projects to address these challenges. Other youth empowerment initiatives have been launched to offer vocation training, workshops, psychosocial and social support sessions. In 2017, these services improved the life of more than 7,000 young men and women.
Through its medical and educational mobile units, Amel offers educational, social and psychological support services to all vulnerable populations who live in remote and far-to-reach areas and are deprived of their fundamental rights.