The UAE has announced that it is to welcome 15,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years with the aim of sharing in the responsibility of addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.
Speaking at the “Leaders’ Summit on Refugees”, which was held on Tuesday at the UN headquarters, Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, said: “Five years ago, before the Syrian crisis erupted, 115,000 Syrians lived and worked in the UAE, joining more than 200 different nationalities and ethnicities that make up the tapestry of our diverse society and whose active and significant contributions are a clear rebuttal to the global wave of xenophobia. Since then, we have welcomed more than 123,000 Syrians.”
She said: “We meet at a critical time. The number of refugees and displaced persons is the largest in modern history. This crisis is being driven by a series of interlinked conflicts, fueled by extremism that crosses borders and transcends geographies. However, what brings us together today, is our collective commitment to strengthening international cooperation and action, through a comprehensive approach to refugee crises.”
Al Hashemi continued: “The UAE strongly supports the humanitarian efforts of regional and international organisations, and we commend the United Nations’ leadership in bringing Tuesday’s New York Declaration to fruition.
“This is an important step forward, which must be complemented by a dedication to preventing wars and conflicts, currently the main drivers of forced migration. We all must do our part to engage in dialogue, resolve differences and support global pillars of peace and stability. Ultimately, we must offer a source of hope for displaced persons that allows them to maintain dignity, return home, reintegrate themselves into their societies, and rebuild their countries and their lives.
“This takes a simultaneous development and humanitarian approach, where we consider both near-term urgency and the tools for longer-term empowerment.
The UAE is honoured to have contributed more than 1 percent of its GNI annually to foreign aid for the last three years, putting us among the top donors globally, and we are proud to be increasing our humanitarian financing.
Financial aid for refugees
“Over the last five years, the UAE has provided more than US$750 million to support Syrian refugees, mainly in neighbouring countries that are facing considerable pressure.
“The UAE believes that we must not just meet the basic needs of refugees, but we also maintain their dignity and offer hope for their future. In refugee camps that the UAE has set up in Jordan, Northern Iraq, even in Greece, we provide the basic life-saving support such as shelter, food, basic health, water, and sanitation. We are also looking to address often neglected services like rehabilitation, education in emergencies, cash for food and work, vocational training, and care for those with mental illnesses.
The UAE minister concluded by saying: “The crisis of refugees and displaced persons, however, is not confined to the Middle East, it is a global phenomenon that requires the attention of the entire international community. The UAE is committed to working with you to find collective and effective solutions to prevent further escalation of the global refugee crisis.”