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Many Jaguars will choose to work for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) after graduation. So it’s important that they understand the business side of charitable endeavors. To get first-hand exposure, BBA15 Jaguars visited the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) at Dubai International Humanitarian City in UAE.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. Ms. Shahed Qamhiyah, UNHCR’s official representative, briefed students on the history, growth, operations and responsibilities of UNHCR. She explained that this non-profit organization was an initiative by H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2003, with the aim to provide humanitarian aid and engage businesses and NGOs like the Red Cross and Red Crescent in relief operation for 136 countries around the world. In 2007, Sheikh Mohammad’s wife, HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein was appointed chairman of the UNHCR.
Logistics plays a crucial role in such an organization. UNHCR has 104,000 square meters of stockpiles dedicated for aid. It hosts 9 UN agencies, and works with 55,000 businesses. Their operations are based within 10 minutes of the Jebal Ali port and near the airport, which allows them to deliver supplies to two-thirds of the world within just eight hours.
During violent emergencies, UNHCR provides food, water, shelter, clothing, medicine, blankets and other supplies. They also help refugees re-establish their identity if required, provide refuge, shelter and also integrate them in a third country to start a new life. During the seminar, Jaguars were given facts and figures to emphasize the amount of refugees and displaced people in the world. For example, as of now 65.3 million people are forcibly displaced from their homes. More thanhalf of these come from Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria, and half are below the age of 18.
After the 45-minute briefing, students were taken to the UNHCR stockpiles, where all the supplies that have to be shipped and distributed are stored in large warehouses. These supplies are well accounted for and ready to be dispatched to the place of need. UNHCR provides supplies of the best possible quality within a stringent budget. During their tour of the warehouse, students witnessed efficient packing techniques that reduce cost. They saw the hard cardboard houses and canvas tents that can be provided at a moment’s notice to house up to five people for six months. Amazingly, the housing solutions can reach emergency sites in less than 24 hours.
At the end of the trip, the Jags reported a new interest in humanitarian work, and a deeper empathy towards victims of war and natural disasters.
“Going to UNHCR was one of the best things that I have done in Dubai,” said Varun Sule, a student. “Not only have I gained an insight for the outside world but the visit also made me more responsible and respectful for the people who suffer in war-torn areas. We are living such a good life — and they don’t even have access to basic amenities. I would like to focus on the concept that a child without a nation is the end of progress. And I would definitely like to help refugees when I have the opportunity.”
Aindrea Sewell, another Jaguar, echoed his sentiments. “I gained an appreciation for how proper planning and logistics can make a huge impact on how quickly and how well crises can be handled.”