The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has launched a fund for refugee and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Abuja, recently.

The fund called Refugee and IDP Zakat Fund became necessary amidst growing levels of internal displacement within Nigeria particularly in the north east and north west geo-political zones, Ms. Chansa Kapaya, UNHCR Representative to Nigeria stressed at the launch of the fund.

“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,” Kapaya said.

Zakat is a religious obligation, ordering all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria to donate a certain portion of wealth each year to charitable causes. The UNHCR through the Refugee and IDP Zakat fund is exploring the willingness and generosity of Nigerians to support the most vulnerable internally displaced families in the country.

“But as displacement situation increases, so too does the willingness and generosity of Nigerians to respond. Undoubtedly, the private sector, including citizens, companies and foundations in Nigeria has a crucial role in assisting vulnerable internally displaced families. My hope is that the launch of this Fund will encourage the Muslim community to give generously to support IDPs in dire need,” Kapaya said in her opening remarks.

The UNHCR Zakat Fund was first established in 2019 and has since assisted millions of people forced to leave their homes due conflicts, and persecution. According to the UNHRC, the Zakat funds will be used to help IDPs improve their livelihoods and provide emergency relief materials such as mattresses, sleeping mats, kitchen set amongst others.

“In 2020, UNHCR’s Islamic Philanthropy programme was able to provide critical assistance to over 2.1 million people in 13 countries. 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.

“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 program that offers a most effective vehicle to any donor to channel their Zakat to those who are eligible to receive it,” says Mr. Khaled Khalifa, Senior Advisor on Islamic Philanthropy to UNHCR’s High Commissioner.

As of March 2021, there are 2.9 million internally displaced women, men and children in Nigeria. Currently of the 97.7 million USD funding requirement for UNHCR’s response in Nigeria, only 14 per cent has been funded for the year.


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