Nasser Al Jabri (Abu Dhabi)
Nadia Jabbour, Director of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the UAE, confirmed that the total contributions of the UAE to the UNHCR over the past decade exceeded $70 million, and efforts have multiplied to include the country hosting the largest UNHCR warehouse in the world, which is currently located in the International Services City. humanity in Dubai.
She said in an interview with Al-Ittihad, in conjunction with the activities of the World Refugee Day, which falls on June 20 annually, that the UNHCR enjoys a strategic relationship and close cooperation with the UAE and the bodies operating in the country, whether in the government or private sectors, to support refugees and displaced people around the world. She pointed out that UNHCR appreciates the UAE’s role in responding to the most urgent displacement crises in the region, and the diversity of support provided by the state to those affected by these crises in all sectors, including health, education and shelter needs, as well as the sustainable development sector.
She said: We look forward to strengthening relations with the UAE government and Emirati humanitarian organizations in order to alleviate the suffering of people affected by wars and conflicts in the region and around the world, especially in what comes within the scope of the UAE’s membership in the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member, as we renew our commitment to strengthening cooperation and coordination To achieve these goals, in order to bring security and peace to refugees, displaced persons and all those affected by conflicts and wars.
She noted that UNHCR leads the international action aimed at protecting people forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution, and UNHCR and its partners are making great efforts to provide life-saving aid and support in many sectors such as shelter, food, water and means of livelihood, and help preserve basic human rights, as well as UNHCR seeks sustainable solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home, where they can build a better future.
She pointed out that the pandemic in 2020 brought many challenges to respond to emergencies, as UNHCR worked to address these challenges through many innovative solutions, including, for example, supporting digital education for refugees in light of the spread of the Covid-19 virus, so that many refugees in African countries have access to education.
In response to a question about the current reality of refugees around the world, she explained that the UNHCR estimates that, by the end of 2020, the number of forcibly displaced people around the world due to wars and persecution reached more than 82.4 million people, of whom 20.7 million refugees fall under the mandate of the UNHCR, and 3.9 million Venezuelans have been displaced outside their country’s borders, and the majority of refugees (9 out of 10 refugees) are hosted by low or middle income countries, and these countries face challenges in providing services to their local citizens as well as hundreds of thousands of refugees.
She pointed out that the epidemic has led to many refugees and displaced persons losing their sources of income and falling into extreme poverty, to the extent that many displaced and refugee families have reduced their level of spending on food, and they no longer have the ability to pay the accumulated debts, rent expenses or the costs of sending their children. To schools, and in the education sector, the pandemic has led to the suspension or interruption of studies in many countries, and 48% of refugee children are out of school due to Covid-19, either as a result of closures, bans on movement, or their lack of means to enroll in distance learning.
She pointed out that UNHCR believes that the equitable and comprehensive distribution of vaccines for all groups in society, including refugees, is a humanitarian necessity, and there is no safety for anyone without the safety of everyone, as we play our part in calling on countries to integrate all groups of the population within the national plans for distribution and vaccination, regardless of their affiliations. These groups or their places of living, including marginalized communities that may find it difficult to access health care services, such as refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups, and it is a cause for hope and relief that in the Middle East and North Africa, all 19 countries confirmed that refugees fall within As part of their national vaccination plans, 15 of them have already started vaccinating refugees.
On the current challenges, Jabbour pointed out that the refugees face enormous challenges on several economic, social and health levels, especially since the vast majority (9 out of 10 refugees) are hosted by developing countries that are already suffering from the effects of the pandemic and face their own challenges to provide basic services to their citizens as well as refugees. Therefore, we work hard to secure health care for refugees by working with governments and relevant organizations, and we seek to support the national health systems in refugee-hosting countries. In the education sector, we are working to increase the number of young refugees enrolled in higher education and to strengthen distance learning and e-learning skills.
Jabbour indicated that UNHCR appeals to political leaders and the international community to work on finding political solutions to the crises that push people to flee their homes in the first place, noting that 42% of the total forcibly displaced are children under the age of 18, and there are one million children born as refugees, pointing out that These tragedies should be a sufficient reason to exert more efforts to avoid and end conflicts and strife that lead to the displacement of millions around the world.
She called on the international community, partners and donors, to support UNHCR’s programs worldwide, and also to work to ensure the inclusion of refugees in their programmes, and to join in order to support refugees around the world and provide them with protection and inclusion in health care, education and sports systems, together we can achieve anything, and together we recover We learn and shine.