United Nations High Commission for Refugees appoints HH Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi as an Eminent Advocate for refugee children

HH Dr Sheikh Sultan urges the UAE and the Arab world to intensify humanitarian efforts and lead the way in tackling the global refugee crisis
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UAE, Sharjah, May 2013: The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has appointed Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qassimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, as an Eminent Advocate for refugee children around the globe. The appointment was announced at a special ceremony in Sharjah that was also attended by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Member of the Supreme Council.

This is a distinguished position that UNHCR gives to compelling individuals to highlight priority issues of the organization and to draw attention to its operations worldwide
Speaking at the ceremony, His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Member of the Supreme Council, stated:” It is a great occasion when Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qassimi has been honoured by the UN High Commission for Refugees for her efforts for upliftment of the under priviliged during her illustrious career. Through UNHCR it is possible to reach suffering refugees through out the world. The Commission has the best interests of refugees. Her Highness past work led to Her Highness being chosen for this position, to be an Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children.. We wish her success, and I will keep supporting her efforts and others who work like her for the needy and the underprivileged here and in the rest of the world”..

This appointment is the culmination of the tireless humanitarian efforts of Her Highness, in which she has devoted herself to helping victims of wars and conflict – especially children, as they are the most vulnerable. Her Highness established the ‘Salam Ya Seghar’ (‘Peace for Children’) initiative to alleviate the suffering of children in war-torn Gaza. In less than a month, this initiative has raised over AED83 million (US$22.7 million) to empower children through education, so that they can realise their full potential despite their adverse circumstances.
In addition, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher has collaborated with numerous international organisations such as Oxfam, Save the Children and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) – to finance various projects that have saved and transformed the lives of Palestinian refugee children.

However, Her Highness has not only confined her humanitarian efforts to Palestine, based on her philosophy that charity knows no borders. She has extended her work across the Arab world and beyond. In Lebanon she launched the ‘Bahibk ya Lebanon’ (‘I Love Lebanon’) initiative to mobilise donations during the Lebanese conflict of July 2006, and has gone further to start synergies with various charity organisations, orphanages and the Children’s Cancer Centre. The donations surpassed AED23 million (US$6.3 million) for that particular campaign.

Demonstrating that social and environmental issues are very close to her heart, Her Highness spearheaded the ‘Tirjah Bahrak Azrak’ (‘Bring back our blue sea’) initiative in Lebanon to clean up the shoreline after the Israeli bombardment of the power plant triggered marine pollution. Donations exceeding AED1 million (US$274,000) were raised, which subsequently boosted marine protection projects under the supervision of the Greenpeace Foundation.

Apart from Her Highness’ international philanthropic initiatives, her work at home in Sharjah and in the UAE has focused on the social sector, providing opportunities to women and children in a career spanning over 30 years. Her Highness is chairperson of over a dozen organisations working for women and children. She is the patron of a number of charities at home including Friends of Cancer Patients, Friends of Kidney Patients and Friends of Diabetes Patients to name a few.

Commenting on her appointment, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher said: “I wish to express my immense appreciation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, for bestowing upon me the honour of becoming an “Eminent Advocate” for refugee children. I also wish to congratulate the High Commissioner and his hardworking personnel in the UNHCR for their tireless humanitarian efforts, which have made a life-saving and life-changing difference to the victims of war and crisis around the globe. To our long-suffering Syrian brothers and sisters, I would like to say hope is on the way and we will not let you walk alone. Children are especially close to our hearts because they are defenceless, vulnerable and innocent. We often say children are the future, but the future is only possible if we act today. We aim not only to save children’s lives – through healthcare, clean water, nutrition, safety and shelter – but also to transform their lives through education. Every child has a right to dream, and education will empower them to elevate themselves above their hardships and pursue their dreams in a sustainable long-term vision”.

She also said:” I have always believed that charity knows no borders, and in our humanitarian efforts we are one: there is no ‘me’ or ‘you’, only ‘us’. That means religion, race, culture and nationality will all be invisible to us – what we only see is the suffering of today and the hope of a brighter tomorrow. As I embark on my responsibilities, I feel a deep sense of solidarity with every single refugee and displaced person; with every single child who will go to sleep hungry, homeless and motherless today. The only long-term solution to prevent refugees is world peace; so I sincerely hope that I can help people of all races and religions to see that we all need each other, and we are all one”.

Imran Riza, UNHCR Regional Representative to GCC said: “I am delighted to be here on behalf of High Commissioner António Gutteres to enlist Her Highness as an Eminent Advocate for UNHCR. We are honoured to have such a distinguished humanitarian associate herself with UNHCR in advocating for refugees and displaced persons worldwide.”

Her Highness has become one of the most prominent advocates in the initiatives of the UNHCR, and recently met with Mr António Guterres at the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The chief objective of the meeting was to provide healthcare for women in Somalia.

This is not the first time that Her Highness has been recognised for her outstanding achievements, as she has received prestigious awards locally, regionally and globally. These include the UAE Businesswomen Award, and honorary recognition for her services to the girl guides and boy scouts movement from the Olave Baden-Powell Society – presented by Princess Benedikte of Denmark; the First Arab Lady Award by the Arab Women Participation Office; as well as numerous other forms of recognition for her work to enhance family affairs, entrepreneurship, and many other socio-cultural issues.