Donations from Muslims around the world have enabled the United Nations to assist around six million forcibly displaced persons in recent years, according to a report published March 24 by UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency.
The Refugee Zakat Fund, officially launched in 2019, received more than $38 million in 2022, enabling UNHCR to help 1.5 million individuals in 21 nations.
“UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund has been endorsed by several legal Islamic scholars and institutions to receive and distribute Zakat contributions to eligible refugees and internally displaced people,” according to a press release announcing the 2023 report.
A majority (56%) of the 2022 donations to the fund were Zakat, with the remaining 44% being Sadaqah. Zakat is obligatory almsgiving that is one of Islam’s five pillars, while Sadaqah is voluntary giving.
The report differentiated the number of people the fund assisted by donation type, noting that Zakat contributions enabled UNHCR to help more than 756,000 people and Sadaqah donations allowed the organization to assistant over 839,000 people in 2022.
Since the fund was piloted in 2017, Zakat donations have allowed UNHCR to assist 4.1 million people and Sadaqah contributions have helped 1.9 million individuals.
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, IDPs in Yemen and Syrian refugees in Lebanon have been the primary groups the fund has assisted through both cash-assistance programs and the direct provisions of goods.
For example, the fund provided hygiene kits, shelter kits and medicines in Bangladesh, a combination of cash assistance and goods (shelter kits, medical supplies and mosquito nets) in India, livelihood kits in Nigeria, hygiene kits in Iran, and cash assistance in several other nations.
Several individuals who received assistance were highlighted in the report, offering a summary of their situation and noting how UNHCR was able to help them through the fund.