Here are the shelters in the UAE to know about if you or anyone you know needs help (and remember, help is on offer to all nationalities)…

Despite common misconceptions, there are actually many services across the UAE for women and children in need. These services help people suffering violence at home, or victims of human trafficking.

Why are we talking about this now? Well, firstly, it’s important to spread the word about these organisations, but also, Ras Al Khaimah has just, this week, opened a new shelter called Aman Centre for Women and Children.

The centre will be a sanctuary in the northern emirate for women and children facing violence at home, of all nationalities, while also supporting victims of human trafficking in the emirate. We can’t yet find contact info for the brand new shelter but we’ll update you when we do – if it’s urgent, the Ras Al Khaimah police should be able to point victims in the right direction.

The UAE has a National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking that works internationally and locally to try and prevent the crime and protect those who suffer from it. You can read the UAE’s Federal Law against Human Trafficking here (it was implemented in 2006, and was the first of its kind in the region). The UAE sees “forced labour” and “quasi-servitude” as human trafficking offences – so those they’ll help are a potentially broad group (men who feel they have been trafficked can call the free police anti-trafficking hotline (800) 5005).

There are other shelters across the UAE to know about too, the exact whereabouts of which aren’t known to the public (for obvious reasons) – a UAE-wide organisation is the Ewa’a Shelter for Women and Children, which was established in 2008.

Ewa’a currently has three shelters in the UAE – one in Abu Dhabi that can accommodate over 60 women and children at a time, and two slightly smaller ones, one in Ras Al Khaimah and one in Sharjah. Anyone who thinks they need help from Ewa’a should call (800) 7283. Staff at the centres speak Arabic, English, Russian, Urdu, Filipino and Bengali.

If a person calls they are not at first sent to the shelter (this is to protect the other inhabitants and the staff), but are instead first met by embassies, hospitals, the UAE Red Crescent or the police. These agencies then meet the person and evaluate their situation.

Ew’a says “the majority of victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse are lured into job offers in Gulf countries”. They say that once victims come to a shelter they make sure to provide them a “home-like atmosphere where their dignity is highly respected”.

In the shelter they are given social, legal, psychological and medical help, and get assistance with any court proceedings. They are then given help to reintegrate back into society in their home countries, are given financial assistance and are sometimes assisted in finding a new job in the UAE.

Another great organisation to know about is the Dubai Foundation for Woman and Children, they have a helpline (800) 111 that people can call for urgent help or even just for advice and more information.

Their shelters accept women and children “experiencing any type of abuse or violence” – they don’t take in male children of 12 or older, however. They also provide psychiatric assistance, therapy, legal services, free-of-charge medical help.

They also provide shelter in temporary housing for those who need it – at first they make a comprehensive assessment of a client, and if the nature of their situation will suit the foundation they are then given a case manager who follows up on all residential and medical needs. The case manager then puts a plan in place – which is individual for each person – and the ultimate goal is to get them ready to reintegrate back into society safely.

“The UAE has achieved much in a short space of time, but realises that much more needs to be done to combat the challenge,” said Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, who is the Chairman of the Committee to Combat Human Trafficking. “The government is committed to serving as an active member of the international community to tackle this phenomenon. The country will continue to acknowledge our shortcomings and demonstrate resolve by vigorously improving its five-pillar action plan. We will continue to welcome direct discussion and collaboration with other sovereign governments, public or private sector groups, or international organisations – that will help stem the tide of human trafficking.” You can read a full report on the committee’s progress last year here – but it’s in Arabic.

Please pass this information on to anyone you think might need help, or anyone you think may even know someone who needs help. The more people who know about their individual rights, as well as the above organisations, the better.

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Photo: Getty