SHARJAH, 29th June, 2016 (WAM) — The Big Heart Foundation, TBHF, a global humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, has launched an initiative to help Syrian refugees meet their daily hygiene requirements.

TBHF’s programme will provide the refugees at Jordan’s Zaatari camp with the means to purchase essential toiletries, with the aim of both ensuring their safe and sanitary living conditions and allowing them to maintain their self-esteem.

The initiative sees the Sharjah-based humanitarian project working in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, to provide money and vouchers for hygiene products for the displaced families at the camp, thereby enabling them to fully address their personal care needs.

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of ‘Salam Ya Seghar,’ an initiative by TBHF said: “The launch of this activity was conceived from a recognition of the importance of maintaining the health and safety of the refugee families, who we believe should have the same fundamental human rights as families who are fortunate enough to live normal lives.”

“An inability to take care of personal hygiene increases the risk of diseases spreading. Since the refugees’ main health concerns are often directly linked to sanitation and hygiene, The Big Heart Foundation is sponsoring UNHCR’s hygiene initiative by providing Syrian refugees with cash and vouchers to purchase essential toiletry items and sanitary products,” she added.

Al Hammadi went on to say, “Since its inception three years ago, The Big Heart Foundation has reinforced its presence and activities for Syrian refugees. The foundation is honoured to be able to play a small part in alleviating the harsh conditions that the refugees are experiencing as a result of being forced to flee their homes with minimal personal possessions.”

THBF’s desire to implement their initiative stems from its awareness that Syrian refuges at camps in Jordan were unable to properly meet their hygiene requirements, with the issue becoming increasingly problematic as the numbers of displaced families in the country grew. As of March 15, 2016, the total number of Syrians registered with UNHCR in Jordan reached 635,877 persons, the majority of whom were living in urban areas, with over 110,000 residing in two major refugee camps in Jordan; Zaatari camp and Azraq camp.

UNHCR, in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council, NRC, has been distributing essential toiletries in both camps ever since they opened. Hygiene items in the form of kits have been given to the new arrivals, as well as to the camp’s existing residents. The kits help the refugees maintain their personal hygiene, which is a crucial factor in ensuring their dignity and safeguarding their general health by reducing their chances of succumbing to diseases and ailments.

Since mid-2014, a pilot project to distribute essential items through a market-based cash and voucher system was commenced, as it was decided that this approach provides beneficiaries with greater choice and flexibility to meet their household needs. According to a survey conducted amongst the refugees, 69 percent of all respondents and 65 percent of women respondents indicated that they would prefer to receive their assistance through established shops and outlets in the camp, as opposed to central distribution sites.

Under its programmes, THBF provides refugees in Zaatari camp with cash and vouchers to purchase hygiene items, such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, nail clippers, shampoo, combs, bathing sponges and adhesive medical tape, to help them maintain their personal hygiene and general health.

The cash and voucher distribution mechanism is implemented by NRC under the supervision and oversight of UNHCR, which maintains a presence in the camps.

H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi officially launched The Big Heart Foundation in June to coincide with World Refugee Day, after the transformation of the Big Heart campaign into a global humanitarian organisation, aimed at doubling efforts to provide support and assistance to refugees and the needy in various parts of the world. This move endorses the UAE’s commitment towards humanitarian contributions and initiatives, and enhanced its reputation regionally and globally.

WAM/AAMIR/Majok