Third Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support Launched

The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, has announced the launch of the third edition of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA), in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The winner of the AED 500,000 (US$136,000) will be awarded at a special honouring ceremony in Sharjah, in May 2019. The award, launched in 2017 to recognise and celebrate the unsung heroes of humanity, has the patronage and support 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 Qassimi, Chairperson of TBHF and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children.

The award is dedicated to individuals and organisations who lead pioneering projects designed to alleviate the sufferings of refugees, and IDPs in host nations encompassing the Asian and MENA regions. Also under the award’s purview are humanitarian efforts launched in communities affected by natural disasters, armed conflicts and poverty worldwide.

For the past two years, SIARA has been annually honouring an individual or organisation, who has implemented a food, health, or education-related initiative to create a tangible impact in responding to these immediate social needs of displaced families, and bettering their lives.

A joint TBHF-UNHCR committee will examine applications describing initiatives/programmes implemented in countries representing the Asian and MENA regions. Along with the premise of making positive impact, the entries are also evaluated according to the ‘sustainable benefits’ experienced by target groups. As such, the judging committee will look into the extent to which submitted projects show effective management of financial and human resources to maximize the benefits of the project, implemented governance, transparency and responsibility practices, and effectively communicated with the audience during the implementation phases.

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “In light of the on-going humanitarian crisis and the pressing need to tackle the challenges that this entails, the Sharjah International Refugee Advocacy and Support Award seeks to mobilise stronger and more concerted efforts to help the weak and defenseless build their talents and realise their full potential to become active contributors to our goal of establishing security and sustained development.”

Hammadi added: “Through SIARA, we have tried to exercise the award’s influence in a way that helps the global community adopt a new approach to humanitarian action. The award has been highlighting humanitarian efforts that are born from the understanding that refugees are human assets, not a socioeconomic burden. Our past winners have all championed the ‘sustainable development’ approach within humanitarian-action based projects. Going forward, TBHF will be keen on deepening this understanding by further popularising its practice through the projects we fund and implement, as well as the SIARA winners we pick.”

SIARA’s prize money is a special contribution by TBHF. It does not represent any share of the individual and organisational donations made to the foundation. Donations made to TBHF go entirely towards assisting the underprivileged, women, children and the elderly, through humanitarian and community development initiatives supported by TBHF’s five funds.

The goals of the annual award correspond with the vision of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah to inspire individuals and institutions to lend a helping hand to refugees and people in need wherever they are, regardless of their nationality, religion and affiliations. The award’s spirit aligns with the humanitarian approach of Sharjah and the UAE, known for their continued efforts and supportive stand towards underprivileged peoples and vulnerable communities affected by natural disasters and political and economic turmoil.

According to the UNHCR’s latest Global Trends Report, more than 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes worldwide due to armed conflicts. In response to the massive influx of refugees, many international organisations and institutions are making great efforts to secure their basic living requirements.

The Big Heart Foundation was officially developed into a full-fledged foundation in June 2015, following a decision by Sheikha Jawaher Al Qassimi to transform the “Big Heart” campaign into a global humanitarian organisation, coinciding with the World Refugee Day. The decision aimed to double efforts to help refugees and people in need all over the world, a move that added value to the UAE’s rich record of humanitarian initiatives and contributed to reinforcing its reputation regionally and globally.