UNHCR, Tabah Foundation unveil Zakat platform

ABU DHABI, 1st May, 2018 (WAM) — UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi-based Tabah Foundation today unveiled its global Zakat platform, which provides a trusted and efficient route to fulfil Zakat obligations and ensure 100 percent of Zakat funds goes directly to the neediest refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon.

The platform was launched at a press conference at the offices of the Tabah Foundation, with speakers including Habib Ali al-Jifri, Tabah’s Chairman, Musa Furber, who prepared a special Fatwa report on the project, Houssam Chahine, the head of Private Sector Partnerships for UNCHR in the Middle East and North Africa, and Mohammed Hawari, head of Public Information and Communications for the UNHCR office in Jordan.

Introducing the event, Toby Harward, head of the UNHCR office in Abu Dhabi, said, “We in UNHCR are enormously proud of our partnership with Tabah Foundation which has resulted in today’s launch of our global digital Zakat platform. The cooperation that UNHCR and Tabah Foundation has established in recent years has been built on our two organizations’ shared mission to assist society’s most vulnerable and those most in need of charity.

“We are even more proud to launch this zakat initiative during the Year of Zayed.”

“In today’s world,” Harward said, “unprecedented numbers of people have been forced to flee from their homes, uprooted by conflict and by persecution. They have been forced to leave behind their belongings and their possessions, families have been torn apart, men and women deprived of their livelihoods and income, children deprived of an education. They have been forced to travel far and wide, often across the globe to strange, far-away countries, in search of shelter, in search of protection, in search of hope in the future.

UNHCR’s Zakat initiative is fully Sharia compliant and is backed by five fatwas from leading Islamic scholars and institutions and is subject to rigorous governance, ensuring transparency at every step, from donation to provision of assistance. UNHCR has adopted a digital only approach to paying Zakat, ensuring security, efficiency, transparency and complete peace of mind. The new platform can be accessed at zakat.unhcr.org Houssam Chahine said, “The situation of refugees globally is one of the biggest human tragedies of our time, with more than 22.5 million refugees, 40 percent of which are in the MENA region. Since Muslims make up the majority of today’s refugee populations, the Zakat initiative comes timely to secure life-saving humanitarian assistance to refugees in need.”

“UNHCR ensures 100 percent of Zakat contributions go directly to eligible refugees under the extreme poverty line, with no money taken off for overheads. The new global platform makes fulfilling Zakat obligations fast and simple for those wishing to help refugee families with their Zakat, until these families become self-reliant.” Chahine added.

Noureddin Harthi, CEO of the Tabah Foundation, said, “Our cooperation with UNHCR over the Zakat initiative is built on our two organisations’ shared values and our mission to help humanity. Through this partnership, we provide UNHCR with technical expertise and knowledge that ensure the transparency and sustainability of this commendable Zakat initiative.” Harthi added, “there are many refugee families in need in the region, and the Zakat initiative comes as a lifeline for the most vulnerable of them.”

UNHCR implements a wide range of humanitarian assistance programmes including provision of shelter, healthcare, education, and cash assistance. The programme provides direct financial aid to more than 60,000 refugee families below the extreme poverty line in Jordan and Lebanon, allowing them to take back some control of their circumstances while contributing to the local economy.

Recipients of cash assistance are vetted by UNHCR, while the provision of aid under the Zakat initiative is implemented by UNHCR and evaluated by representatives from Tabah to ensure strong governance and full compliance. In addition, quarterly reports on how Zakat funds are distributed are posted on UNHCR’s Zakat website. UNHCR is considering Zakat for other eligible refugees and IDPs, and will add them to the platform once compliance and necessary processes are finalised.

UNHCR reports shows that in Jordan, the bulk of cash assistance is spent on rent, food, healthcare and debt repayments, while in Lebanon, families prioritise food, healthcare, utility bills and transportation. In Jordan, US$2,160 provides 12 families with enough cash to cover rent, food, healthcare and debt repayment for one month, while in Lebanon, US$2,100 provides 12 families with enough cash to cover food, rent, healthcare, and utility bills for one month.

UNHCR has a 68-year track record in assisting refugees in need throughout the world, regardless of the background of their plight. Through its Zakat initiative, UNHCR is the first major agency of its type to provide an efficient, trusted route for people to fulfil Zakat obligations.

Scholars and institutions that have issued fatwas supporting the UNHCR Zakat initiative include Dr. Sheikh Ali Gomaa, former Grand Mufti of Egypt and professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Fatwa Council of Tarim, Hadramaut, Yemen, the Senior Scholars’ Council of Morocco and Dar al-Ifta al-Missriyah, one of Egypt’s leading centres for Islamic legal research.

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