The statement came on the sidelines of a UNHCR officiating ceremony organised on Thursday to reappoint Sheikha Jawaher as an Eminent Advocate. With this renewal of confidence, she completes a decade-long journey in this significant role which she took up in 2013 as the UNHCR’s first Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children to use her global position and influence to increase public awareness about refugees and the work of the UNHCR, with a focus on children.
The virtual event, broadcast on Sharjah TV and all social media platforms of TBHF, was attended by Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; Houssam Chahine, Chief of Private Sector Partnerships for MENA at the UNHCR; global humanitarian leaders, as well as a group of refugees and internally displaced peoples who have received the support of Sheikha Jawaher.
While addressing the gathering, Sheikha Jawaher said, “In many regions around the globe, people amongst us are searching for a homeland after they were forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods due to conflict. They are labelled refugees. Some of them have never understood the concept of homeland or what it means to belong. To date, nearly 79 million have been displaced for various reasons. Every one of them carries a story of displacement and alienation, with no end in sight for their misery. To change these realities, we need to identify the reasons for such displacement and work collaboratively on a global level to address them.”
She added that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the struggles of these vulnerable populations by hindering their access to essential services such as healthcare, and requires concerted global efforts to overcome.
Filippo Grandi noted that Sheikha Jawaher’s humanitarian leadership – be it in advancing the standards of global humanitarian action, advocating for the rights of the displaced, or ensuring the successful implementation of both vital emergency relief and long-term projects – her exemplary generosity and moral support have touched the lives of more than a million refugees and IDPs, especially women and children, in more than 20 countries.
“Refugees around the world are facing enormous challenges, of the 80 million forcibly displaced people 85 percent are hosted in developing countries that are themselves struggling to meet the needs of their citizens, especially as we collectively battle COVID-19. In 2020 Sheikha Jawaher made invaluable contributions in the wake of three crises: the COVID-19 pandemic the Beirut blast, and the floods in Sudan. I am, therefore, most grateful that she has accepted the invitation to renew her Eminent Advocate title.”
A video highlighting the humanitarian journey of Sheikha Jawaher since she was named UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children was played at the event.
The video also captured snippets of Sheikha Jawaher’s humanitarian visits to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and other nations, and highlighted the work done by TBHF in the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan. It featured glimpses of the relief efforts undertaken by her ‘Salam Beirut’ campaign in aiding the victims of the Lebanon Port explosion and also turned to Iraq where she extended vital support to the victims of the Mosul crisis.
The video also showed the success of Sheikha’s Jawaher’s directives to rehabilitate schools and hospitals, offering monetary support to families and women in Egypt; rehabilitation of 12 schools and establishment of a community centre in Syria; and the psychological support offered to women in refugee camps in Turkey.
In Asia, TBHF, under her directives, supported thousands of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and Bangladesh, with both emergency aid and long-term humanitarian projects. In neighbouring Pakistan, she took female Afghan refugees under her wing by renovating and fully equipping four vocational training centres for them and building a community centre.
More recently in Africa, Sheikha Jawaher issued a directive to rehabilitate a healthcare centre and construct a school for girls in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, while in Sudan, she mobilised efforts to provide shelters to people impacted by the 2020 floods. In neighbouring Somalia, she extended vital healthcare services to refugees escaping conflict in the nation.
UNHCR Eminent Advocate fills the vulnerable with hope for bright future
The commemorative video featured an emotional segment, rounding up heartfelt messages of hope from those whose lives have been touched over the years by Sheikha Jawaher’s humanitarian endeavours.