UNHCR – Islamic Philanthropy Report Launch

Over 1 Million People Benefit from Refugee Zakat Fund – UNHCR
………Urges more contributions amid COVID-19 emergency

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has urged Muslims and other faith-based organisations to support refugees struggling to cope with the repercussions of the global COVID-19 pandemic through the Refugee Zakat Fund. In a video statement at the official launch of the UNHCR’s 2020 Islamic Philanthropy Report in Qatar on Sunday April 19th, 2020, Mr Khaled Khalifa, Senior Adviser and Regional Representative of the UNHCR to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, emphasized that “in the countries where UNHCR operates, the COVID-19 pandemic is an emergency on top of an emergency.”

The Report which highlights the impact of the Refugee Zakat Fund on vulnerable refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the globe revealed that in 2019, the Refugee Zakat Fund received a total of over US$43,165,000 million, including the largest ever single contribution made by the Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al-Thani Humanitarian Fund of over USD35 million which has helped to support a total of 164,696 vulnerable families (875,000 individuals). The Report further reveals that other donations to the UNHCR Refugee Zakat Fund were from individuals, institutional partners and philanthropists, primarily from the MENA region. These donations have helped provide life-saving assistance to a total of 191,497 vulnerable families and 1,025,014 refugees and internally displaced persons in Bangladesh, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia and Mauritania.

On his contribution, Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al-Thani, Founder of the Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al-Thani Humanitarian Fund observed that “Displaced communities are, without a doubt, among the most vulnerable populations that require close and strategic attention from philanthropists wanting to make a serious impact on the state of the globe”. He further stressed that “The Muslim World has a historic opportunity to further demonstrate the significant role of Islamic social finance, and particularly Zakat, in humanitarian assistance, through extending a helping hand to the world’s displaced populations, while realizing key Sustainable Development Goals,”

Expressing gratitude to the Thani Bin Abdullah Bin Thani Al-Thani Humanitarian Fund, and all individuals, Foundations, financial institutions and faith-based organisations who have entrusted UNHCR with their Zakat thus enabling it to reach over 1 million needy and displaced persons, Mr Khaled Khalifa, emphasized that “ Today, and in view of the current global health situation, more refugees will require our humanitarian assistance, and Zakat and Islamic philanthropy can have a significant impact in responding to these needs,”

Giving a graphic description of the grim situation of refugees and displaced persons worldwide, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Filippo Grandi said, “Imagine trying to cope with this (the coronavirus pandemic) crisis with no access to soap and water to wash your hands. No hope of isolating yourself because of overcrowded conditions. No shelter to stay safely inside. Imagine having to do this after already having been forced by war to flee your home and your family. This is the tragic reality today for far too many refugees and displaced families around the world.”

Faced with the urgent push to curb the risk and lessen the impact of COVID-19 outbreaks on vulnerable communities the UNHCR had on March 25th, appealed for US$255 million, noting that funds were critical to urgently support UNHCR’s preparedness and response in situations of forced displacement over the next nine months.

The Refugee Zakat Fund was launched by UNHCR in 2019, as a trusted, compliant and effective distributor harnessing the power of Zakat to transform the lives of the most vulnerable refugee and IDPs, through partnerships and collaboration with Zakat institutions, foundations and philanthropists. The fund is backed by five fatwas (religious rulings) and is subject to strict governance, ensuring utmost transparency at every step – from donation to provision of assistance. Since its inception in 2019, the fund has assisted more than one million vulnerable beneficiaries worldwide. – END

Raefah Makki
Campaign and Advocacy Officer, UNHCR MENA

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance that includes shelter, food and water, as well as help safeguard fundamental human rights. We also develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future and work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.