DUBAI: The United Nations’ refugee agency on Monday reported a 12.5 percent rise in donations to its Refugee Zakat Fund last year, resulting in a 59 percent increase in the number of refugees benefiting from this assistance.
Zakat is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a religious duty of Muslims to donate money to charitable organizations.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) set up the Refugee Zakat Fund in 2019 and last year it helped 2.1 million beneficiaries in 13 countries, including Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Mauritania, Niger, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
According to the UNHCR’s Annual Islamic Philanthropy Report, $48.6 million was raised in 2020, an increase of 12.5 percent year-on-year.
This meant that 2.1 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) benefited from the Refugee Zakat Fund in 2020, a rise of 59 percent year-on-year. According to the report, 55 percent of the zakat donations were for Yemen, followed by Bangladesh and Lebanon.
Commenting on the impact of Islamic philanthropy on marginalized communities, Prof. Dr. Koutoub Moustafa Sano, secretary-general of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, said: “With more than 50 percent of the 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.”
Despite the rise in donations, the UNHCR has forecast that it would need $9.1 billion to fully address the needs of refugees and IDPs around the world in 2021.