UAE spend billions of dirhams over years helping Palestinian
Abu Dhabi - Arab Today
The UAE has spent billions of dirhams over the years helping the Palestinian cause by providing food and humanitarian aid to those most in need.
The Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF) has been one of the main beneficiaries of that ongoing support. Established in 1991, its mission is to help youngsters who have suffered because of conflict, those who are sick and cannot afford medical care.
The PCRF has 35 chapters worldwide, with offices in the United States, Palestine, Europe and the UAE.
"The main projects are in Palestine but we treat children from different nationalities regardless of their religion, gender or parents' political background,” said Yara Saleh, president of the UAE chapter.
"Our main project is a mental-health project in Gaza where we are trying to identify all the children who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or mental-health issues caused by the war last summer.”
Patients who cannot be treated locally are sent to hospitals abroad, including the Emirates.
"This is where the chapters step in to support, depending on their capacity and capabilities,” Ms Saleh said.
"The UAE chapter started eight to nine years ago and we have received about 80 cases so far.”
The PCRF is helped by a number of UAE hospitals, including Medcare Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital in Dubai, the American Academy for Cosmetic Surgery, the Neuro Spinal Hospital and The Little Wings Foundation, a non-profit organisation run by volunteers.
"The patients are usually aged from one to 18,” Ms Saleh said.
"We're now expecting a youngster from the West Bank who has had severe burns since she was three years old from hot oil that was dropped on her.
"This is her third visit to Dubai and she will have cosmetic reconstructive surgery.”
When patients are received in the UAE, they are often looked after by local families and live with them in their homes.
"There are certain criteria the families should meet,” Ms Saleh said. "We investigate the house, meet the family and a support group is also assigned to help the family arrange activities and medical appointments.”
Such projects helped to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause in the UAE, she said.
"There are so many people who are interested in helping and getting involved. They are looking for a charity to work with. We're lucky to have so many supporters here in the UAE.”
Another popular project many UAE residents take part in is the Cycling for Gaza initiative that raises funds through a cycling challenge across different countries.
"This year the proceeds are going to support the mental health programme,” Ms Saleh said. "Last year, we raised US$250,000 [Dh 918,287] which is excellent.”
George Itty, chief executive of Nahtam, an Abu Dhabi-based social responsibility organisation, said the UAE is a big supporter of needy causes abroad.
"They're motivating other organisations to support these countries and they're really going out of their way,” he said.
"The UAE has always played a major humanitarian role as those were the words from the late Sheikh Zayed.
"The UAE is supporting a number of countries in the region, especially by providing for needy children.