International Islamic Fiqh Academy and UNHCR issue an urgent appeal in support of forcibly displaced people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through Zakat and Sadaqah

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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA), a subsidiary of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), issued today an urgent appeal for the allocation of  Zakat and Sadaqah contributions in support of the most vulnerable refugee and internally displaced families during the last ten days of Ramadan.

Donations received through the Refugee Zakat Fund will help cover immediate needs of millions of the most vulnerable displaced families, in particular those severely affected by the economic repercussions of COVID-19. Contributions will help families cover their costs of food, clean water, housing and clothing, in addition to paying debts, education and health expenses.

UNHCR’s Senior Advisor on Islamic Philanthropy and Representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, Khaled Khalifa, stated that “for refugees and internally displaced people, the pandemic is not only a health crisis but a socio-economic one, as a majority have lost their daily sources of income, with others being forced to take their children out of school or left unable to purchase medication needed for chronic diseases”. Adding on, “Zakat and Sadaqah donations make a big difference and impact in the lives of refugees, and in many instances the only lifeline for those in need during these challenging circumstances,” said Khalifa.

For his part, H.E Dr. Koutoub Moustafa Sano, Secretary General of IIFA, expressed the IIFA’s support of humanitarian efforts carried out by UNHCR, noting that it “guarantees the rightful distribution of Zakat contributions to eligible refugee and displaced families, as Zakat in its truth is the right of the poor and the needy trusted in the hands of the donor, and which UNHCR is committed to deliver as an agent.”

His Excellency called upon Zakat donors and organizations around the world to dedicate a portion of their Zakat this year for the benefit of refugee and internally displaced families who are most in need, as they are “eligible for  Zakat, and meet the criteria of eligible Zakat beneficiaries,” explaining that “Zakat can act as one lifeline in helping displaced people overcome these challenges, even if just for a period of time.”

In November 2020, IIFA issued a fatwa affirming the compliance and commitment of UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund, to the Sharia based provisions and key governance parameters of the receipt and distribution of Zakat to refugee and internally displaced families.

Despite the growth that the Refugee Zakat Fund has witnessed in the past two years 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. To address the unmet needs of these vulnerable populations in 2021, UNHCR has projected global budget needs at $9.1 billion, of which $2.7 billion are needed in countries where UNHCR can distribute Zakat, 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.

With the start of Holy month of Ramadan, IIFA announced its support of UNHCR’s efforts in providing humanitarian assistance through Zakat contributions, for the benefit of those who have lost their homes and have had their lives turned around in a matter of seconds. This comes as part of UNHCR’s global Ramadan campaign #EverySecondCounts.

Every second of the Holy month can be an opportunity to do good and make an impact in a person’s life. To dedicate your Zakat or Sadaqah to refugees in urgent need, please visit  zakat.unhcr.org or download UNHCR’s Zakat mobile application “GiveZakat”.

About UNHCR:

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 like shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.

About UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund:

In a bid to strengthen partnerships with Zakat institutions and donors, the Refugee Zakat Fund was launched by UNHCR in 2019, harnessing the power of Zakat and Sadaqah to transform the lives of refugees and IDPs. The fund is backed by more than 10 fatwas, most recently from the International Islamic Fiqh Academy and Al Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy. Moreover, the fund is subject to strict governance, ensuring the utmost transparency at every step – from donation to provision of assistance. In 2020, the fund has helped 2.1 million beneficiaries in 13 countries including Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Mauritania, Niger, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, through Zakat & Sadaqah donations.

For more information about the Refugee Zakat Fund, click on the following link: zakat.unhcr.org

About IIFA:

A subsidiary of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) is an international Islamic institution for the advanced study of Islamic jurisprudence and law. The institution was founded in 1983 after a resolution calling for the establishment of the IIFA by the OIC during its third Islamic Summit Conference. Serving as the OIC’s jurisprudential agency and legal arm, the IIFA seeks to address issues related to humanity in accordance with Sharia Islamic law and Islamic ethics and cooperates with Fiqh councils and global organizations to address humanitarian issues in the Islamic world.