UAE residents major contributors to UN Refugee Zakat Fund

Sami Ha Zen/Dubai
Filed on April 10, 2021

The UAE has ranked above Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Qatar.

People in the UAE have ranked the highest in terms of the number of donations to the UN’s Refugee Zakat Fund, according to an official at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Raefah Makki, head of campaign and advocacy at the UNHCR, said 3,500 donations, worth almost $3 million, were sent by UAE residents to help refugees and the displaced around the world. “The UAE has ranked above Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Qatar, who made up the rest of the top five nations in terms of the number of donations,” she said.

“In 2020, the Refugee Zakat Fund raised a total of $61.5 million, through Zakat and Sadaqah contributions, 79 per cent of which was Zakat. The support helped refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) to effectively address economic hardships that were further exacerbated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. It is important to note that all Zakat donations reach the needy without any deductions, honouring the recommendations of more than 10 fatwas received by the UNHCR,” explained Raefah.

“The donations received helped the UNHCR in providing lifesaving support to up to 2.1 million vulnerable refugees and displaced families in 13 countries through the distribution of cash assistance and goods, allowing them to address basic needs including shelter, food, education, healthcare and debt repayments. The geographical scope of the Refugee Zakat Fund distribution last year included Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Niger, Mauritania, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad, Ethiopia, Sudan and India.”

To supplement the fund’s web-based, and bank transfer donations in an increasingly digital world, the UNHCR has launched its GiveZakat mobile application, said Raefah. “The mobile application was launched to harness the power of Islamic finance to transform the lives of those in dire need of assistance. It allows users to easily calculate Zakat, check reporting information in real-time, and donate both Zakat and Sadaqah funds simply and quickly.

The app also notifies donors about the journey of their Zakat donation right until it reaches the beneficiary families, she added.

#EverySecondCounts Ramadan campaign

To provide comfort to refugees, the UNHCR is rolling out a Ramadan campaign — #EverySecondCounts — on Monday to help make an impact in the life of those forcibly displaced.

It takes a second to share the blessings of Ramadan with a family who lost everything, said Raefah Makki, head of campaign and advocacy at the UNHCR. “The pandemic has added to what was already a complex situation for refugees especially those who will observe Ramadan amid dire conditions, with increasing poverty rates, and reliance on humanitarian assistance. The socio-economic impact of Covid-19 has pushed more forcibly displaced populations into deepening poverty with the loss of livelihood opportunities and income, leading to increasing levels of food insecurity and malnourishment. This Ramadan, whether through our shared voice and actions, blessings and prayers, or through generosity and kindness, Sadaqah or Zakat, #EverySecoundCounts,” she said.

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