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UN Zakat Fund helps 2 million refugees hit by Covid-19

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on March 29, 2021
Supplied photo

Pandemic widened gap between needs of displaced families and the funds received.

Zakat Funds helped support over 2 million vulnerable and displaced refugees last year, but a lot still needs to be done, a UN agency report revealed.

Zakat is a obligatory donation Muslims give as part of their religious duty.

Out of the 2.1 million beneficiaries of UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund in 2020, nearly 1.6 million people directly benefitted in 10 countries, including Yemen, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania, India, Niger and Pakistan. The remaining 0.5 million have benefitted from Sadaqah, Sadaqah Jariyah and purification funds across multiple locations, including Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday launched its third annual Islamic philanthropy report online titled: ‘Islamic Philanthropy - Transforming the Lives of the World’s Displaced’ highlighting the impact of Zakat, Sadaqah, and Sadaqah Jariyah donations.

Khaled Khalifa, UNHCR’s senior advisor on Islamic philanthropy in the UAE and representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, said that although 2020 was a difficult year, the agency registered a big rise in Zakat donations. “Despite challenges owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency was able to support 2.1 million vulnerable refugees and internally displaced people through Zakat and Sadaqah funds, thanks to institutional partners and philanthropists across the region and globally. In comparison to 2019, Zakat donations in 2020 increased by 12.5 per cent, triggering a significant growth in Zakat beneficiaries at 59 per cent,” Khalifa said.

The annual report also revealed that more than 50 per cent of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) were from OIC countries. The UNHCR provided lifesaving support through distribution of cash assistance and goods, allowing refugees and IDPs to address immediate needs including shelter, food, education, healthcare, and debt repayment.

To address the needs of these vulnerable populations in 2021, UNHCR has projected global budget needs at $9.1 billion, of which $2.7 billion are needed to provide lifesaving support to 24.2 million people in Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Mauritania, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Iran, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Somalia.

Commenting on the impact of Islamic philanthropy on marginalized communities, Prof Dr. Koutoub Moustafa Sano, secretary-general of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, stated: “It is heart-warming to see that UNHCR, in its humanitarian response efforts, has succeeded to rely on the foundations of Islamic economics, which entails a complete way of life, realizes comprehensive social development, and is based on noble values, good morals and social justice.”

“With more than 50 per cent of refugees and IDPs coming from OIC countries, the Muslim community responded with generosity to UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund, in particular in the context of the consequences of the pandemic. But the needs are still high, and there is much space left to cover for the expenditures of Zakat-compliant activities,” added Sano.

Despite the growth that the Refugee Zakat Fund has witnessed due to generous contributions by individuals and institutional partners, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has widened the gap between the needs of displaced families and funds received.

“With the Holy month of Ramadan upon us, we urge everyone to continue supporting refugees and displaced families who will welcome Ramadan in incredibly difficult circumstances, either through prayers, kindness, or Sadaqah and Zakat,” added Khalifa.





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