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Sharjah's Sheikha Jawaher highlights plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon

News Stories, 22 May 2013

© Courtesy of the executive office of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al-Qasimi
Syrian refugee children pay attention during a visit to their Beirut classroom by the royal visitor from Sharjah.

BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 22 (UNHCR) Sharjah's Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al-Qasimi has called on the Arab world and the international community to do more to help Syrian refugees after visiting families living in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon.

"This is not a Syrian problem or a Lebanese problem, or even an Arab problem although the Arab world should take the lead in helping our neighbours," said Sheikha Jawaher, who was in Lebanon last week on her first mission as UNHCR's only Eminent Advocate.

"The enormity of the problems we are witnessing first-hand can only be resolved through the collective efforts of the entire international community," she stressed, while adding that it was "time to show that we are one world and our heart is big enough to comfort every refugee child."

During her one-day trip, Her Highness met Syrian refugee women at a community centre in the Lebanese capital and discussed the challenges they face. She later met Syrian children studying at a state-run school in Beirut under a UNHCR-backed refugee education programme.

Sheikha Jawaher's humanitarian mission to Lebanon came at a time when the number of refugees fleeing the two-year conflict in Syria continues to rise sharply. Today, more than 470,000 refugees are assisted by UNHCR and other organizations in Lebanon. The total number of Syrians registered as refugees or waiting to be registered has passed the 1.5 million mark.

The royal visitor praised the determination and resilience of the refugees. "The fact that some refugees are willing to navigate through minefields and mortar fire to reach Lebanon, illustrates just how determined they are to create better lives for their children," she said after talking to the refugees at the women's community centre.

She also stressed the importance of the registration process, recounting her meeting with a boy who had arrived in Lebanon unaccompanied and had no idea if his family was dead or alive. "This makes the registration process ever more crucial, in the sense that it can help reunite children with their parents or family," she said.

Ninette Kelly, UNHCR's representative in Lebanon, welcomed the visit of Sheikha Jawaher, who is the wife of Sharjah's ruler, Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi. "I am confident her compassionate voice will help relay stories of hardship and resilience of hundreds of thousands of refugees to her country and the Arab World."

Sheikha Jawaheri was appointed as UNHCR's first Eminent Advocate earlier this month. In this role, she will help increase public awareness in the Middle East and elsewhere about refugees and the work of UNHCR, with a special focus on refugee children.

She is well known in the region for her humanitarian work and has devoted herself to helping victims of conflict, especially children. She chairs more than a dozen organizations working on behalf of vulnerable women and children, including Sharjah's Supreme Council for Family Affairs. Sheikha Jawaher is a valued supporter of UNHCR and has provided the refugee agency with funding to provide health care for displaced Somali women.




UNHCR country pages

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

The UN refugee agency has named the British coordinator of a UN-run mine clearance programme in southern Lebanon and his civilian staff, including almost 1,000 Lebanese mine clearers, as the winners of the 2008 Nansen Refugee Award.

Christopher Clark, a former officer with the British armed forces, became manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre-South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) n 2003. His teams have detected and destroyed tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and tens of thousands of mines. This includes almost 145,000 submunitions (bomblets from cluster-bombs) found in southern Lebanon since the five-week war of mid-2006.

Their work helped enable the return home of almost 1 million Lebanese uprooted by the conflict. But there has been a cost – 13 mine clearers have been killed, while a further 38 have suffered cluster-bomb injuries since 2006. Southern Lebanon is once more thriving with life and industry, while the process of reconstruction continues apace thanks, in large part, to the work of the 2008 Nansen Award winners.

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

UNHCR started distributing emergency relief aid in devastated southern Lebanese villages in the second half of August. Items such as tents, plastic sheeting and blankets are being distributed to the most vulnerable. UNHCR supplies are being taken from stockpiles in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre and continue to arrive in Lebanon by air, sea and road.

Although 90 percent of the displaced returned within days of the August 14 ceasefire, many Lebanese have been unable to move back into their homes and have been staying with family or in shelters, while a few thousand have remained in Syria.

Since the crisis began in mid-July, UNHCR has moved 1,553 tons of supplies into Syria and Lebanon for the victims of the fighting. That has included nearly 15,000 tents, 154,510 blankets, 53,633 mattresses and 13,474 kitchen sets. The refugee agency has imported five trucks and 15 more are en route.

Posted on 29 August 2006

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie returned to the Syrian capital Damascus on 2 October, 2009 to meet Iraqi refugees two years after her last visit. The award-winning American actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, took the opportunity to urge the international community not to forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees who remain in exile despite a relative improvement in the security situation in their homeland. Jolie said most Iraqi refugees cannot return to Iraq in view of the severe trauma they experienced there, the uncertainty linked to the coming Iraqi elections, the security issues and the lack of basic services. They will need continued support from the international community, she said. The Goodwill Ambassador visited the homes of two vulnerable Iraqi families in the Jaramana district of southern Damascus. She was particularly moved during a meeting with a woman from a religious minority who told Jolie how she was physically abused and her son tortured after being abducted earlier this year in Iraq and held for days. They decided to flee to Syria, which has been a generous host to refugees.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie meets Iraqi refugees in Syria

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