Together, we can alleviate suffering.

Executive Summary

Supported almost 2 million people through Zakat and Sadaqah

This year continues to witness a record number of people forcibly displaced, exceeding 114 million – representing over 1% of global population. Islamic philanthropy has become a key element in the response to this displacement crises and provide an essential lifeline to millions of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and hosting populations around the world.

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Islamic Philanthropy Across the Globe



The impact

Impact of the Refugee Zakat Fund

Zakat and Sadaqah Distribution Countries in 2023


Partnerships in Focus

UNHCR is proudly partnering with several organisations, all of which are committed to providing safety and access to opportunity for refugees around the world.

H.E. Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Al-Thani

H.E. Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah Al-Thani is a prominent businessman as well as a well-known philanthropist in Qatar.

Qatar Charity

In 1984, a group of Qatari philanthropists came together to form a community initiative under the name “The Committee of Qatar for Orphan Sponsorship” to provide assistance to children orphaned by conflicts and disasters in neighboring countries.

Muslim World League

The Muslim World League (MWL) has been one of the most instrumental international non-governmental Islamic organizations in the world since its conception on May 18, 1962.

Zakat House of Kuwait

The establishment of Zakat House in 1984 was to facilitate work on collecting and distributing Sadaqa and Zakat by the best, most efficient, and legally permissible ways.


Hear the experiences of refugees around the world


Sudanese refugee living in Chad.

In Chad, refugees recount fleeing violence, finding refuge, while Samia shares ongoing struggles.


14-year-old Rohingya orphan.

Young Mohammad prays for his deceased parents’ peace and his return to Myanmar.


Senior Yemeni woman displaced by war.

She finds comfort in the blessed month of Ramadan despite struggles, expressing faith in prayer during harsh times.


Syrian refugee father in Lebanon.

Mohamad worries about his family’s safety amid harsh winters, struggling alongside others to stay warm and protected.

No Poverty

In line with one of the primary targets of SDG 1, which aims to “reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty” by 2030, UNHCR is committed to ending poverty by advocating for refugees to work in their host country. When refugees can work, they become self-reliant and are able to provide for themselves and their families, increasing resilience, restoring dignity, and helping entire families to build independent and meaningful futures. For example, in Pakistan, Sadaqah funds increased the economic and social involvement of extremely poor refugees and host community members via the ‘poverty graduation’ project, in which the allocation of productive assets allowed families to launch small-scale companies. Zakat and Sadaqah funds are a critical intervention for providing cash assistance to said communities – particularly Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Mauritania, and Egypt – thereby helping families to meet their essential needs, which contributes to preventing them from extreme poverty and having to resort to negative coping mechanisms.

Zero Hunger

UNHCR has continually supported universal access to safe and nutritious food for the most vulnerable individuals and communities. Through Zakat funds, UNHCR distributes multi-purpose cash assistance to refugees and IDPs in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, enabling them to meet their urgent needs, with food as the first expense made with the assistance received.

Good Health and Well Being

UNHCR strives to facilitate access of refugees and host communities to national healthcare systems, a mission which connects to one of the SDG 3 targets: “achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all”. More acutely, Zakat and Sadaqah funds helped provide multi-purpose cash assistance to refugees and IDPs which enabled them to access services where there are often financial barriers, such as health clinics. Our monitoring shows that cash assistance is used in numerous ways, including essential treatments and medical care, doctor’s fees, and medication.

Additionally, Sadaqah funds contributed to the rehabilitation of health facilities in Syria, following the terrible earthquake that happened in February, benefiting around 79,000 people. In addition to this, Sadaqah funded secondary healthcare referrals for 1,871 Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Quality Education

A fundamental target of SDG 4 is to “ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education”. Cash assistance provided by the Refugee Zakat Fund has proven effective in supporting access to said education by helping refugee parents with direct costs such as school fees, uniforms, transportation, and addressing other financial barriers that keep children out of school. Zakat funds were also used to distribute material kits to 13,057 Sudanese refugee children in Ethiopia, in addition to supporting access to tertiary education through university fees, along with the provision of allowances for approximately 10 students.

Education facilities in Syria have also been rehabilitated with Sadaqah funds, following the earthquake which happened in February, to support more than 2,000 students.

Gender Equality

Upon completing the vulnerability assessment framework to identify beneficiaries eligible for assistance, Zakat and Sadaqah funds in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Mauritania, and Afghanistan are then dedicated towards cash assistance to extremely vulnerable families – including many female-led households and their children. Cash assistance helps contribute to protection and gender equality by promoting self-reliance, assisting female entrepreneurs, and empowering women to exercise decision-making in the household.

Crucially, Zakat funds help ensure that vulnerable populations do not resort to negative coping mechanisms stemming from poverty. When women and girls have equitable access to and control over resources and are able to meaningfully participate in and influence decision making processes,

Crucially, Zakat funds help ensure that vulnerable populations do not resort to negative coping mechanisms stemming from poverty. When women and girls have equitable access to and control over resources and are able to meaningfully participate in and influence decision making processes, they are rendered less vulnerable to sexual exploitation, gender-based violence, child marriage, and forced labour. Overall, equitable access to cash assistance helps facilitate a genuine and positive transformation in discriminatory gender relations, roles, and attitudes.

Overall, equitable access to cash assistance helps facilitate a genuine and positive transformation in discriminatory gender relations, roles, and attitudes.

Clean Water and Sanitation

UNHCR is committed to “achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all” by 2030, which is one of the targets for SDG 6. As such, UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund has been contributing to this SDG through both Zakat and Sadaqah funds around the world. A prime example is the new Sadaqah Jariyah campaign launched to fund the rehabilitation of boreholes in Ethiopia and Chad, aiming at providing clean water to around 120,000 people.

In addition, the cash assistance provided by our Zakat funds to refugees and IDPs has been proven to help them access hygiene and sanitary products, including aiding 13,737 Malian refugees in meeting their essential needs and providing women with hygiene kits.

Affordable and Clean Energy

Access to safe and sustainable energy is a basic human need. Without it, the forcibly displaced – particularly women and children – are more vulnerable and have less time to rebuild their lives. At UNHCR, we are committed to addressing the energy needs of refugees, improving access to sustainable fuel, powering health centers, and utilizing solar-powered lighting.

Pursuant with this commitment and with the SDG 7 target of ensuring “universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services” by 2030 – Zakat funds were sent to Bangladesh to aid Rohingya refugees. Subsequently, the refugees were provided with liquefied petroleum gas (LPGs), which is available locally in Bangladesh and was assessed as the best fuel alternative for cooking. UNHCR and other partners carried out an assessment on the impact of the switch to LPG. The study found that LPG distribution has resulted in an 80% reduction of demand for firewood in the Rohingya households in the camps, reducing deforestation to well within sustainable forestry rates.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

One of the main pillars of UNHCR’s work worldwide is to provide refugees, IDPs, returnees, asylum seekers, and stateless people with equal access to decent and sustainable work regardless of their gender, race, economic or legal status. UNHCR has contributed Zakat funds towards providing sustainable and decent work for vulnerable communities by supporting income-generating activities in Nigeria, while Sadaqah funds were used to provide technical and vocational training to refugees and host communities in Pakistan.

Reduced Inequalities

Due to their legal status, refugees often do not have the right to formally work in their host countries, resulting in inequalities of outcome and opportunity. The legal status of refugees often prevents them from having equal access to shelter, healthcare, education, and other services. Zakat funds helped provide much needed assistance to vulnerable displaced families in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, among others, enabling them to meet their basic needs and access the essential services needed to rebuild their lives. This goes a long way towards achieving one of the key SDG 10 targets: “empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status” by 2030.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Zakat funds helped provide cash assistance to vulnerable displaced families in several countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Egypt. This assistance has allowed UNHCR to help families maintain access to safe and affordable housing by ensuring that refugees can pay their rent, especially noting that in many countries most refugees are living in cities. Consequently, cash assistance has greatly reduced their risk of eviction, thereby complying with an SDG 11 target which wants to “ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums” by 2030.

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Zakat funds have helped provide vulnerable refugee families to reduce their reliance on negative coping mechanisms such as child labour, trafficking and child marriage. UNHCR also provides cash assistance to unaccompanied and separated children to enable them to survive and access the care and protection they need, which contributes to a crucial SDG 16 target: “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children”. Moreover, in line with another SDG 16 target – “significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere” – UNHCR child protection programmes help prevent sexual and gender-based violence among unaccompanied children by ensuring that they have access to essential social services, including psycho-social support.

Partnerships for the Goals

Among SDG 17’s numerous targets are to, “encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships” – without such partnerships, our advocacy for the most vulnerable refugees and IDPs would not be feasible. Hence, UNHCR has partnerships with more than 40 diverse partners globally supporting UNHCR’s Islamic Philanthropy activities through the Refugee Zakat Fund. This includes charities, foundations, corporations, HNWIs, public entities, Zakat houses and halal entities from more than 10 countries.

Partnerships also play an important role in the delivery of Zakat and Sadaqah funds. For instance, in Egypt, refugees can collect their cash transfers from any of the 4,000 branches of the Egypt Post Office countrywide, while in Jordan cash assistance is provided through ATMs at the Cairo-Amman Bank.

About us

UNHCR's Refugee Zakat Fund

Since its pilot in 2017, UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund has been a crucial partnership mechanism that is effective, compliant, and trusted by institutions and individuals. Since its inception, over 8 million beneficiaries have been assisted. This is thanks to more than $240 million that has been received through the Refugee Zakat Fund, of which over 70% has been Zakat.

UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund is subject to rigorous governance and oversight, ensuring transparency at every step in the provision of assistance.

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Key highlights



UNHCR’s Global Ramadan campaign aids refugees with essential relief items and raises awareness, alongside Sadaqat Jariyah initiatives focusing on water scarcity.

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The 17th fatwa was received in June by The North American Imams Fellow (NAIF).

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UNHCR’s COP28 panel in UAE and high-Level event in Geneva focused on Islamic philanthropy and climate change.

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Global Islamic Fund for Refugees (GIFR)

Last March, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) have announced the activation of the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees (GIFR).

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