UNHCR launches Zakat Fund to support internally displayed families

By Raphael Oni

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has launched Zakat Fund to raise money for food and other needs for internally displaced persons and refugees displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East. This is in response to the growing levels of internal displaced families in Nigeria.

The Zakat Fund is an Islamic philanthropic tool to collect yearly alms by Nigerian Islamic institutions and Muslims to support the most vulnerable internally displaced families in the country. Zakat Fund was originally established in 2019 and has since helped millions of people who have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict, violence, and persecution. 

Speaking at the launch in Abuja on Thursday, the UNHCR Representative to Nigeria, Ms Chansa Kapaya, expressed worries at the growing rate of displacement caused by non-state armed groups. 

She said the private sector; including citizens, companies and foundations in Nigeria has a crucial role in assisting vulnerable internally displaced families. She expressed the hope that the fund would encourage the Muslim community to give generously to support IDPs in dire need.

In her words, “We are witnessing a growing level of internal displacement within Nigeria. While the relentless violence by the non-state armed group in North-East Nigeria continues to cause mass suffering and displacement in the region, we are also concerned about the critically evolving situation in North-West Nigeria, where violence and banditry is aggravating communities, forcing families to flee their homes. But as displacement situation increases, so too does the willingness and generousity of Nigerians to respond.”

The Senior Advisor on Islamic Philanthropy to UNHCR’s High Commissioner, Mr Khaled Khalifa, said in 2020, the UNHCR’s Islamic Philanthropy programme was able to provide critical assistance to over 2.1 million people in 13 countries.

 Soliciting for financial contributions from Muslims and non-Muslims in the country, he said, “With the vast majority of IDPs in Nigeria being eligible for Zakat, we endeavour, through the Refugee and IDP Zakat Fund, to channel Zakat to help alleviate their suffering. According to Khalifa, “the fund does not charge any administrative fees on collection and implementation of Zakat activities. 100 per cent of your contribution goes to those in need. It is a globally trusted, Sharia’ compliant programme that offers a most effective vehicle to any donor to channel their Zakat to those who are eligible to receive it.”

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