Dr. Shaikh Sultan and Shaikha Jawaher met Richard Towle, UNHCR Representative in Malaysia.
His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and his wife, Shaikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)'s Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, visited UNHCR's Harmony Refugee Learning Centre in Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday.
During the visit, Dr. Shaikh Sultan stressed the importance of the international community's attention to the suffering of refugees around the world and the need to move seriously towards providing them with the requirements for a dignified life, including shelter, food, health and education. He emphasised that everyone in this world, whether governments, institutions or individuals, are required to play an active role in the protection of refugee families, especially children.
At the Learning Centre, Dr. Shaikh Sultan and Shaikha Jawaher met Richard Towle, UNHCR Representative in Malaysia. They discussed the situation of refugees in the country and UNHCR's efforts to support them and help them overcome the trials and challenges of life of exile. Dr. Shaikh Sultan and Shaikha Jawaher inquired about UNHCR's needs to be able to continue providing support and assistance to refugees residing in Malaysia, specifically displaced Rohingya Muslim families from Myanmar.
The meeting was attended by James Lynch, UNHCR Regional Representative for South East Asia; Richard Towel, UNHCR Representative Malaysia,Yante Ismail, UNHCR Associate External Relations Officer in Malaysia; Houssam Chahin, Senior Private Sector Partnerships Officer in UAE, UNHCR and Ayat El Dewary, Associate Private Sector Partnership Officer, UNHCR. Also attending were Badr Jafar, Chief Executive Officer of Crescent Enterprises and founder of Pearl Initiative; Noura Al Noman, Chairperson of the Executive Office of Shaikha Jawaher; Ameera BinKaram, Deputy Chairperson of Nama Women Advancement Establishment; Erum Mazher Alvie, Senior Advisor at Executive Office and Mariam al Hammadi, Director of 'Salam Ya Seghar,' an initiative of the Big Heart Foundation.
At the Learning Centre Dr. Shaikh Sultan and Shaikha Jawaher met Rohingya refugee families from Myanmar and listened to the details of their arduous journey to asylum. They also met a number of students who receive education at the Centre.
Dr. Shaikh Sultan commended UNHCR's efforts to protect refugees across the world and provide them with their needs. He stressed that helping one another is a human imperative that cannot be sidelined or abandoned. Dr. Shaikh Sultan called for raising the level of cooperation by both the public and private sectors in all countries to provide more support, rehabilitation and care for refugees living in Malaysia, especially with regards to education. He said the future coming generations will be compromised if we fail to invest in our children's education. He called for coaching and mentoring programs for young adult refugees to ensure that they can acquire the professional skills that enable them to earn and support themselves and their families.
Shaikha Jawaher reiterated her commitment to closely following up the issue of Myanmar refugees, especially children, who account for 20% of the total refugees in Malaysia, according to UNHCR data. She underscored the need to reunite children who have been separated from their parents, in addition to urgently providing them with education and healthcare. Shaikha Jawaher indicated that she will coordinate with the UNHCR through the Sharjah-based humanitarian initiative The Big Heart Foundation to explore new mechanisms to expand the scope of services provided to refugees, so as to ensure they enjoy their fundamental rights.
She urged all refugee children to pursue their education and to focus on academic achievement more than any time before and think ahead. Shaikha Jawaher encouraged the girls to focus on their education and to refuse early marriage or sitting at home without studying.
"My dear daughters, the future still lies ahead. With education, you can build what was demolished and help yourselves and your families. You will grow to become physicians, engineers, teachers and leaders, don't accept early marriage for any reason, you are the future and with education and knowledge, youwill be tomorrow's builders and future leaders," she said.
During the visit to the Learning Centre, Shaikha Jawaher distributed school bags containing school supplies and books to the children there. She urged them to look to the future with hope and optimism, saying: "The entire world is morally bound to protect the future of Myanmar's Rohingya refugees." She added "We are with you with our hearts and our actions. We came here to assess your conditions on the ground and listen to your requirements and needs. I will continue to work with UNHCR, with the support of Dr. Shaikh Sultan to mobilise support and provide you with your needs to live a dignified life until you return to your home country".
In May 2013, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, appointed Shaikha Jawaher Al Qasimi as UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children in recognition of her efforts to raise public awareness about the problems faced by refugees and to mobilise support for them. Shaikha Jawaher is one of the main supporters of UNHCR's humanitarian work, having contributed to launching and supporting many initiatives to support Palestinian Syrian and Somalian refugees, as well as Rohingya refugees. The Big Heart Foundation, the global humanitarian agency launched by Shaikha Jawaher, allocated Dh 1 million to help Rohingya Muslim refugees in response to UNHCR's 2015 appeal to organise an urgent relief campaign to support displaced persons and help improve their conditions.