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UNHCR launches its 2022 annual Islamic Philanthropy report

UNHCR is launching its 2022 annual Islamic Philanthropy report, marking the importance of Zakat and Sadaqah distribution in our global humanitarian response to support the most vulnerable out of 84 million displaced persons, many of whom have risked their lives to find safety, and are now living in poverty and debt.


In 2021, UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund distribution activities impacted the lives of more than 1.2 million beneficiaries in 14 countries, thanks to generous Zakat and Sadaqah donations from institutional and individual donors. For the third year in a row, Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah bin Thani Al Thani Fund provided a sizable portion of these donations.

More than $23.6 million in Zakat funds were received by the Refugee Zakat Fund, following its 100% Zakat distribution policy, assisting more than 679,000 refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in 13 countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen. Similarly, over $11.7 million in Sadaqah funds have helped more than 596,000 beneficiaries in 10 countries.

Strong linkages have been identified between the impact of Zakat/ Sadaqah and the realization of several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), primarily: No Poverty (SDG 1), Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3), Quality Education (SDG 4), Gender Equality (SDG 5) and Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6). This was possible thanks to multi-purpose cash assistance programmes, core-relief items, hygiene and sanitary products, livelihood programmes, social services and access to cleaner energy sources.

UNHCR’s 2021 Global Ramadan Campaign, “Every Gift Counts”, launched in conjunction with the issuance of the previous annual Islamic Philanthropy report, played an essential role in driving this impact, as did UNHCR’s annual winter campaign, which helped refugees and IDPs in the MENA region with core winter relief items, cash support, and waterproofing.

Digital technology continued to be at the center of UNHCR’s approach to Islamic Philanthropy, with 2021 witnessing the introduction of three new initiatives: 1) the option to donate Zakat al-Fitr to refugees during the month of Ramadan; 2) launch of the Refugee Zakat Fund mobile app, which, as a new technology tool, proved essential in engaging new audiences and raising much needed funds throughout the year; and 3) launch of UNHCR’s first Dhul Hijjah campaign.

Several Islamic institutions and organizations have provided additional endorsement to the governance and compliance of UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund during 2021. The Muslim World League’s Islamic Fiqh Council, Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy, the International Sharia Research Academy (ISRA), and the Canadian Council of Imams (CCI) issued fatwas further authorizing UNHCR to receive and distribute Zakat to refugees and IDPs. Additionally, the Fiqh Majlis of Canada endorsed the receipt and distribution of Zakat towards UNHCR’s “Aiming Higher” higher education scholarships programme.

In 2022, UNHCR’s global needs amount to $8.99 billion to assist an expected 102.6 million refugees, IDPs and other people of concern (POCs), out of which $3.1 billion is needed in Zakat and Sadaqah distribution countries to help 24.8 million refugees and IDPs with much needed cash and essential goods. This year’s campaigns including Ramadan, Dhul Hijjah and Winter will continue to be key drivers towards increasing the impact of Islamic Philanthropy on the lives of vulnerable refugees and IDPs around the world.


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