KUWAIT: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA), an entity of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), signed recently a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in efforts to support vulnerable refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide. The MoU was signed by Dr Koutoub Moustafa Sano, Secretary General of IIFA and UNHCR’s Senior Advisor on Islamic Philanthropy and Representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, Khaled Khalifa.

The partnership between the two entities will provide UNHCR with the necessary scholarly support and jurisprudential advice to further strengthen its activities in the area of Islamic philanthropy. This includes outlining Sharia provisions related to the collection and distribution of Zakat and Sadaqah funds for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide, in addition to issuing necessary legal rulings, fatwas or statements in relation to humanitarian and displacement emergencies. Furthermore, IIFA will work together with UNHCR to expand its network in OIC countries in order to scale-up humanitarian solutions and help alleviate the plight of the forcibly displaced.

During the virtual signing ceremony, Dr Koutoub Moustafa Sano, stated: “This collaboration is a new opportunity to join the tremendous humanitarian work the UN Refugee agency is doing. This milestone marks the continuity of our work with UNHCR in efforts to support as many vulnerable refugees and displaced families as possible. We will always urge Muslims to support refugees with their Zakat and Sadaqah and remind them of the positive impact of giving on the people in need, themselves, and the entire community. The International Islamic Fiqh Academy will continue, by all means, supporting the effort of the UN refugee agency until there isn’t a single refugee worldwide.”

Khaled Khalifa said: “We at UNHCR would like to express our sincere gratitude for the long-term cooperation of IIFA and its unwavering commitment to support the activities of UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund. Zakat and Sadaqah, among other forms of Islamic philanthropy, hold vast potential to help address pressing humanitarian issues, including the refugee crisis, and plays a significant role in the provision of lifesaving support to the most marginalized and vulnerable communities across the globe. We look forward to working together with IIFA to further unlock the power of Islamic philanthropy for the benefit of those who have been forcibly displaced worldwide.”

Since 2019, UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund has been effectively harnessing the power of Zakat (and Sadaqah) to transform the lives of the world’s most vulnerable displaced populations, especially in OIC countries including  Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Mauritania. The particular provision of cash and goods assistance empowers beneficiaries to address immediate needs including shelter, food, education, healthcare and debt repayment. The fund is backed by more than ten fatwas, one of which was issued by IIFA in late 2020, and is subject to strict governance, ensuring the utmost transparency at every step - from donation to provision of assistance.