Refugees Issue: A Truly Global Challenge

  • 23 June 2008

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Red Crescent Society, issued a statement on International Refugee Day that the worsening of the crisis around the world poses a big challenge to the international community, and its humanitarian organizations. It is an important indicator of the threat posed to global society by the rising number of refugees and displaced persons in some regions of the world. It is an issue that requires the cooperation of international and regional forces to address this crisis. The UAE is playing a major role in limiting the impact of the crisis around the world due to the right policies of its wise leadership. This role is manifest in the substantial aid provided by the state to refugees around the world, and the quality of humanitarian programs and relief activities carried out by the Red Crescent Society since 1994, that amounts to over Dh477 million in monetary terms alone.

Armed conflicts, civil wars and other military operations are the principal cause for the recent rise in number of refugees around the world. According to figures released by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the world currently has 11.4 million refugees, which is a sharp increase from the figure of 9.9 million in 2006. This crisis has put a heavy burden on concerned international organizations, especially the UNHCR. The UAE is leading in the race to provide relief to refugees worldwide, with the UAE Red Crescent Society providing financial aid and assistance to the needy, by building refugee camps and providing them with adequate security and care, for example in Bosnia, Afghanistan and other places. Among the notable contributions by the UAE in this field was the establishment of a special Fund for Refugee Women and Children (FRWC), whose institution was announced by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Nahyan—the honorary President of the Red Crescent Society—during a ceremony held by the UNHCR that awarded her the Commission's Golden medal. Her Highness Sheikha Fatima donated an additional Dh1 million to the organization.

The central role played by the UAE in supporting and aiding refugees all over the world without any discrimination of color or race is a reflection of the humanitarian dimension of its foreign policy, which is based on the principles of Islam and Arab traditions. This issue deserves greater attention as it is not given due importance on the international stage, despite international warnings of large scale migration in many areas of the world. Any such eventuality would require a much greater level of cooperation from countries and international organizations under the aegis of a voluntary program, in addition to the necessity of adopting highly effective mechanisms.