Staff at the International Humanitarian City explain how, with the help of the Dubai government, they are helping to change millions of lives across the Middle East, Africa and Asia
Vision: What does the International Humanitarian City do?
IHC: From large-scale emergency relief to local and international campaigns, IHC has been active in a variety of activities and programs and Dubai is fast becoming one of the philanthropic capitals of the world, as announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, earlier this year.
IHC members have been continuously undertaking operations from the hub since its establishment a decade ago, and with the more recent unrest across the Middle East and North Africa region, they have been heavily involved in the delivery of aid, with almost daily shipments from Dubai.
Location plays a vital role in the work of International Humanitarian City and its member organisations’ efficient delivery of aid
For example, since the beginning of 2012 until date, over $45 million of aid has been sent from our hub for Syrian victims and refugees, and Dubai was the hub for the majority of global emergency aid to Syria in the first weeks of the crisis.
Vision: What has been a recent project that you think really demonstrated the emirate's skill in philanthropy?
IHC: Most recently, under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, special airlifts in support of displaced families in Gaza began nearly two weeks ago from the Royal Wing in Dubai. Boeing 747 and C130 cargo planes have been flying daily to Amman creating an air bridge with Dubai. So far the operation exceeds $6 million and has established a critical lifeline for UNRWA and other UN agencies working inside Gaza. Food, medicine, blankets, and other supplies have made up the bulk of the shipments that began in the very first days of the crisis to help Gazan civilians under bombardment.
A particular project we are pleased to be part of and also pleased to have brought to Dubai, is the World Humanitarian Day campaign that takes place on 19 August of every year. The event, which recognises humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes, is celebrated in major UN hubs of the world such as New York and Geneva.
We began celebrating it in Dubai in 2012, under the patronage of IHC Chairperson HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. In collaboration with our partners at the UN OCHA Gulf Office, we have managed to engage thousands of participants in Dubai and the UAE in the campaign, and we are pleased to see expansion each year.
Vision: How do you think Dubai is best placed to help third world countries?
IHC: Location plays a vital role in the work of International Humanitarian City and its member organisations’ efficient delivery of aid. Within 8 hours by air you can reach two-thirds of the world’s population from Dubai. Even more importantly, the IHC is within easy reach of the countries within the Middle East and African region. This makes it possible for our member organisations to have easy access to major emergency operations at lower cost and be the first responders when conflict or natural disasters break out.
In addition to our strategic location, Dubai and the IHC offer aid agencies and businesses – logistical expertise, world class air and seaport facilities, cost effective procurement options, political stability and security, and advanced infrastructure.
Special airlifts in support of displaced families in Gaza began nearly two weeks ago from the Royal Wing in Dubai
Vision: The IHC recently met for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Annual Consultation in Geneva. What was your most important takeaway from the meeting?
IHC: This year, the annual consultations brought together more than 500 delegates and representatives from over 250 organisations in Asia, Africa Europe and Americas, inviting them to engage with senior level UNHCR representatives on issues of common concern and exchange of expertise. The meetings enabled networking among delegates of non-governmental organisations from around the globe in the fields of development, humanitarian aid, health and emergency relief.
This was highly beneficial for IHC and its member organisations, as well as Dubai. During the three-day dialogue, IHC held several meetings with leading organisations including the EU Commission, WHO and UNITAR among others, where areas of cooperation and potential partnerships – an extremely important factor within our work – were explored.