UNHCR Urges Muslims to Help Struggling Refugee Families This Ramadan Through Zakat Contributions

Press release
Published June 7th, 2018 - 07:04 GMT
UNHCR provides much-needed cash assistance to extremely vulnerable Syrian refugee families without any alternative sources of income.
UNHCR provides much-needed cash assistance to extremely vulnerable Syrian refugee families without any alternative sources of income.

With too many refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon, including vulnerable women and their children, living far below the poverty line and struggling to make ends meet, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is counting on the generosity of Muslims to allocate their Zakat to refugee families before the end of the Holy Month.

UNHCR provides much-needed cash assistance to extremely vulnerable Syrian refugee families without any alternative sources of income. This has been made possible through innovative mechanisms, primarily UNHCR’s Zakat initiative, a trusted and efficient route for people to fulfil their Zakat obligations.

So far, Zakat donations from the public and private sectors of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been extremely generous, putting UNHCR closer to raise funds required to meet urgent survival needs of refugees and internally displaced peoples (IDPs) amid a global refugee crisis. Zakat contributions this year have already saved 1,152 refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon from falling deeper into debt and poverty, and from the risk of exploitation. However, 5,465 families are still in urgent need of sustainable cash assistance. A contribution of approximately AED/ SAR 8,000 (USD 2,000) feeds, clothes and houses an extremely vulnerable family for a year, the Refugee Agency says.

“We are very thankful for the donations received so far. As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan, we urge Muslims to allocate their Zakat to struggling refugee families through UNHCR’s Zakat initiative. Such allocation is guaranteed to make an immediate difference in the lives of the most vulnerable refugee communities in the Middle East”, said Houssam Chahine, Head of Private Sector Partnerships for UNHCR in the MENA region.

Your contributions will save families who solely rely on our monthly aid to survive from the grasp of extreme poverty”, he added. “Help us keep a roof over their heads, food on their table and clean water to drink. Eligible refugee families need your Zakat”.

This year’s Zakat campaign has established UNHCR as a trusted route for Zakat donations, raising close to US$1 million within the first week of Ramadan from individuals across the GCC, Asia, Europe and North America. UNHCR’s Zakat initiative is fully Sharia compliant and is backed by fatwas from leading Islamic scholars and institutions and is subject to rigorous governance, ensuring transparency at every step, from donation to provision of assistance. UNHCR has adopted a digital only approach to paying Zakat, ensuring security, efficiency, transparency and complete peace of mind.

Recipients of cash assistance are registered by UNHCR, while the provision of aid under the Zakat initiative is implemented and evaluated to ensure strong governance and full compliance. In addition, quarterly reports on how Zakat funds are distributed are posted on UNHCR’s Zakat website zakat.unhcr.org.

And it’s not just people in countries which are not afflicted by war who are setting examples with their generosity. Despite being affected by childhood paralysis, 40-year-old Syrian refugee Alya donates part of her monthly aid to help other refugees. “I use my monthly allocation to help other people. We should help others every month and not only during Ramadan,” she says. “It is the time when families reunite; sadly, this has become impossible for me and not even close to becoming a reality.”

Zakat obligations are helping children like Majid and Ammar, who have lost their parents at war and who are currently looked after by their aunt Rajwa in Jordan. “It is my responsibility to provide them with anything they need,” she says. “As long as I am alive I will do everything in my power to do so”, she says. “Ramadan in Syria was wonderful, all of our family got together for iftar. Those days are long gone for us and without the aid we receive we would not be alive today.”

Syria’s seven-year conflict continues to fuel the world’s largest refugee crisis, with more than 5.6 million people forced into prolonged exile in neighboring countries, out of which 2.6 million are children. Each year sees families driven deeper into penury, with the vast majority of refugees in Jordan and Lebanon now living below the poverty line and unable to meet their basic needs. Hundreds of thousands of impoverished households urgently await additional resources to be allocated through the Zakat initiative during the last ten days of Ramadan.

UNHCR has a 68-year track record in assisting refugees in need throughout the world, regardless of the background of their plight.

Background Information


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.


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