Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy & Support extends nomination deadline to December 31st

Humanitarian agencies across Asia and Africa eligible for the AED 500,000 award

• Mariam Al Hammadi: Humanitarian agencies face diverse and daunting challenges in the course of the work they undertake to support refugees.

For immediate release
Sharjah, December 16, 2019

The nomination deadline for the fourth edition of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA) has been extended to December 31st, 2019

Granted to local institutions across Asia and Africa, SIARA is organized by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The overwhelming number of inquiries and applications by humanitarian entities from across Africa and Asia have prompted the organizers to extend the deadline and enable more applicants complete the formalities for the nomination procedure. For the first time since its launch, this year, TBHF will receive applications directly on its website,

The AED 500,000 (US$136,000) award money is a special contribution by TBHF and does not represent any share of the donations made to the foundation. SIARA is instituted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad 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.

TBFH had earlier announced that the award which previously covered only local organizations operating in the Asia, Middle East and North Africa regions, has now expanded its reach to include local entities across the entire African continent. This move was intended to shine light on the humanitarian situation in the continent as Africa currently hosts more than 26 percent of the 70.8 million refugees globally.

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “Through this award, TBHF seeks to offer monetary and moral support to the local humanitarian agencies to alleviate the diverse and daunting challenges they face in the course of the work they undertake to support refugees and the internally displaced. We hope, winning the award will enhance the abilities of these institutions to continue to fulfil their goals in addressing the needs of vulnerable populations, including the provision of emergency aid as well as sustainable services such as healthcare, education and better living facilities.”

Al Hammadi added: “Today, humanitarian action occupies top priority on the agenda of countries and institutions as it is closely linked to advancing the sustainable development goals. International research suggests that conflicts and asylum will continue to be the main cause of humanitarian disasters in the coming years. As local humanitarian agencies are often at the frontlines, supporting those affected by crises, ensuring their protection and integrating them into host societies, it is imperative to recognize the efforts of these institutions to enable them to facilitate improvements in the quality of services they provide.”

SIARA’s terms and evaluation criteria seeks to support and promote the innovative practices and mechanisms of local humanitarian institutions, bring international limelight to most affected areas, and prioritizes those in urgent need of humanitarian support.

TBHF’s evaluation of the nominees will centre on whether their work has resulted in tangible benefits for those they offered support to. Their work must use innovative practices within its programmes and initiatives to ensure better results and sustainable impact, be expansive in its scope, and carry a clearly defined element of transparency and objectivity in its service delivery ethos.

Since 2017, TBHF has been organizing the award annually to recognize the unparalleled efforts of local humanitarian outfits who have gone beyond the provision of emergency relief to have a positive and sustainable impact on the lives of numerous families and children who live under harsh conditions due to being displaced and in refuge, by improving their access to food, health, psychological support and quality education.

TBHF was officially established in 2015 following a range of humanitarian initiatives and campaigns launched since 2008 by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of TBHF, to redouble efforts to help refugees and people in need worldwide. Since its establishment, TBHF has added significantly to the UAE’s rich portfolio and long record of humanitarian initiatives implemented regionally and globally. The organization continues its humanitarian efforts, having delivered emergency aid to more than 20 nations worldwide facing crises, along with supporting long-term and sustainable projects in healthcare, education and other vital sectors.