The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has joined everyone observing Ramadan to call for peace, mutual respect and solidarity as Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan.
Guterres in a video message on Friday drew a parallel between the spirit of “understanding and compassion” which characterises Ramadan, and the mission of the United Nations,’ to foster dialogue, unity and peace.’’
According to him, Ramadan is a time to come together, bound by our common humanity.
“In these challenging times, my thoughts are with those facing conflict, displacement and suffering.
“Ramadan is also known as a “month of giving”, and a high point in charitable giving motivated by faith, toward the displaced’’
Meanwhile. in a new report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) showed that its pioneering Refugee Zakat Fund had supported six million forcibly displaced people in 26 countries since its launch in 2017.
According to UNHCR, Islamic philanthropy plays a growing role in supporting refugees worldwide,.
“We are new to this sector as a UN organisation,” Khaled Khalifa, Senior Advisor to the High Commissioner for Refugees and UNHCR Representative to Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, told reporters in Geneva.
“We wanted to offer a new platform to enable giving in places where Muslim organisations do not operate at ease because of financial restrictions because we need the large machinery of the UN to implement, like in Afhangistan, Somalia and for the Rohingya he said.
“Islamic giving has always been there – we are the new kids on the block.”
UNHCR’s Islamic Philanthropy Annual Report showed that some $38 million dollars were raised through the fund in 2022.
Khalifa highlighted how harnessing the central role of charitable giving in Islam had been key to the initiative’s success.
He explained the principle of “Zakat”, or obligatory almsgiving, whereby Muslims needed to contribute 2.5 per cent of their unused savings to charity every year, adding that it was one of the five pillars of Islam.
Khalifa also pointed out that, while resources from the fund were not exclusively dedicated to supporting refugees in Muslim countries, more than 50 per cent of the forcibly displaced under UNHCR’s global purview were in the Muslim world.
The agency listed the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, the internal displacement situation in Yemen and the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon as the main “recipient operation” of proceeds from the fund since 2017.
The contributions were distributed through cash assistance and direct provision of goods.
While the fund represented a “small contribution” to the budget of the agency, its positive impact remained increasingly apparent.
To continue leveraging the potential of Islamic philanthropy, in 2022 UNHCR launched a new initiative in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank, called the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees.
Khalifa said that the agency was increasingly looking to “innovative finance” to generate new revenue streams for refugees worldwide.
UNHCR noted that its Refugee Zakat Fund had been “endorsed by several legal Islamic scholars and institutions” to receive and distribute donations to eligible refugees and internally displaced people.
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