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UN agency praises Fatima

posted on 16/05/2001: 551 views

Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Nahyan, wife of the President and Chairperson of UAE Women's Federation, has donated an additional Dh1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), taking her personal contribution to the UNHCR's Fund for Refugee Women to Dh2 million.

In a letter delivered to Sheikha Fatima, Ruud Lubbers, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, complimented her efforts at championing the cause of refugee women and children, which she had initiated last year. Lubbers praised Sheikha Fatima for her clear thinking on issues affecting women, especially those who have been forced into exile around the world. He also pointed out that the personal commitment of Sheikha Fatima had generated considerable public interest in the UAE, not only with regard to the plight of refugee women, but also refugees in general.

The UNHCR had last month felicitated Sheikha Fatima with a gold pin, its supreme token of appreciation for involvement in refugee issues. This distinction had made Sheikha Fatima the first woman to receive the award, and one of the few to receive the award. The award has been conferred mostly on heads of state, responsible for providing shelter for a number of refugees.

The award was personally conferred on Sheikha Fatima by Maureen Connelly, UNHCR's Deputy Director of the Regional Bureau for Central and South West Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East, on behalf of Lubbers. In his letter, dated April 19, Lubbers also recalled his deep interest in the Arab and Islamic world, and said he wished to promote greater partnership and collaboration between UNHCR and the countries of the region. To this end, he stated, he had recently appointed Mustapha Djemali as his Special Representative to the Member States of the Organisation of Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States. He said Djemali would be visiting the region shortly, and will meet government officials in the UAE, with a view to strengthening partnerships between the UAE and UNHCR.

Briefing media in the UAE last month, Maureen Connelly had expressed the UNHCR's good fortune of having the involvement of Sheikha Fatima and the people of the UAE in its work of caring 22 million refugees around the world, of which nearly 70 per cent were women, and children below the age of 17.

Maureen Connelly had also said that the UNHCR was holding talks with the UAE Red Crescent Society (RCS) on priority projects for refugee women and children, for which the money collected by Sheikha Fatima's fund could be allocated. She said that the discussions were focusing on providing relief to refugee women and children in Chechnya, urban women refugees of different nationalities in Syria, women refugees and displaced people in Afghanistan, refugees in West Africa such as Guinea, and Kurdish refugees in Iraq.

Similarly, the refugee agency also received a cash contribution of US$500,000 from the Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation towards reconstruction of houses in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina last year. According to a progress report submitted to the Foundation, phase I of the project, involving reconstruction of 31 houses in the Zvornik municipality area was completed in February 2001, at a cost of US$269,161. Phase II is expected to be completed in May 2001, at an estimated implementation cost of US$230, 839. (The Khaleej Times)


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