Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 30, 2018 –UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urging Muslims across the world to assist one million vulnerable refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, as another harsh winter season looms upon the region.
“This winter, Muslims throughout the world can make a real difference by dedicating their Zakat contributions through UNHCR’s Shariah-compliant Zakat programme to vulnerable refugee families”, said Houssam Chahine, UNHCR’s Head of Private Sector Partnerships in the MENA region at The Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES). “We can help the refugees in need survive the harsh weather with a click of a button, through an easy, trusted and safe platform: zakat.unhcr.org.”
UNHCR launched its Winter Zakat Initiative to bring about a positive change in refugees’ lives and to help them cope with extremely low temperatures. In an effort to facilitate donors’ experience, UNHCR introduced a smart Zakat calculator that is built in accordance with global AAOIFI (Accounting & Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions) standards. The calculator’s algorithm allows Zakat donors to understand Nisab for gold, silver, money and stocks per solar or lunar year. It then produces a final Zakat amount and data on how many refugees are assisted through the contribution.
Chahine also highlighted that technology has revolutionized the way Zakat is distributed to eligible beneficiaries. In Jordan for example, he noted that refugee families receive Zakat funds every month through designated ATMs thus simplifying the collection process for refugees. This automation, from donation to distribution, facilitates monitoring and evaluation, and, by incorporating biometrics including iris scanning, leaves no room for fraud.
UNHCR’s Zakat initiative is a trusted, efficient and fully Shariah-compliant route for people to fulfil their Zakat obligations. Introduced earlier this year in co-operation with the Abu Dhabi-based Tabah Foundation, UNHCR’s Zakat initiative is backed by fatwas from leading Islamic scholars and institutions across the Middle East and North Africa, and is subject to rigorous governance, ensuring transparency at every step, from donation to provision of assistance. UNHCR adopted a digital approach to paying Zakat, ensuring security, efficiency, transparency and complete peace of mind.
Since launching the initiative, UNHCR collected over $15.5 million in Zakat donations, which translates into cash assistance for more than 22,185 vulnerable refugee families over 4 months. UNHCR has a 68-year track record in assisting refugees in need throughout the world, regardless of the background of their plight.
The Zakat platform can be accessed at