UNHCR publishes regular reports to showcase impact of funds received on the lives of the most vulnerable refugee families.

The obligatory alms that Muslims are required to pay as an obligatory alms tax is known by its Arabic name "zakāt." Zakat is taken from specific sources of wealth and given to specific categories of recipients. The specific sources of wealth include livestock, savings, trade goods, crops, and minerals.

The 8 categories of eligible recipients for Zakat are mentioned in the Quran: "Alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them [Zakat], those whose hearts are to be reconciled, captives, debtors, in the cause of Allah, and wayfarers...“. The majority of today's refugees and internally dispalced persons (IDPs) fall under at least four of these categories: the poor, the needy, the debtors and the wayfarers.

It is a shared responsibility to respond to the burgeoning humanitarian needs in the region, which have reached a new peak. Refugees and IDPs are entitled to receive Zakat and the Refugee Zakat Fund is a credible agent to facilitate access to the most vulnerable families in order to meet their most basic needs through innovative programmes. The Refugee Zakat Fund is Zakat compliant, backed by fatwas from leading scholars and institutions, and 100% of Zakat contributions are delivered directly to the most vulnerable refugees and internally displaced families.

To provide an alternative source of funding to refugees in need with a focus on families comprising widows and their children, through an effective and trusted route for people to fulfil their Zakat obligations, while ensuring 100% of their donations go to needy recipients – refugees and IDPs.

The Refugee Zakat Fund is designed to help Muslims fulfil their obligations regarding Zakat. Non-Zakat donations can be made to the same UNHCR cash assistance programmes through other pages: giving.unhcr.org

In 2020, the Refugee Zakat Fund expanded its reach to assist eligible refugee and displaced families in Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Bangladesh, Mauritania, and Nigeria. We also distribute Zakat in other countries such as Pakistan, India, Iraq and Turkey. If you would like to make Zakat contributions to a country not listed on the platform, please contact us directly.

100% of funds donated to the Refugee Zakat Fund are distributed directly as vital cash assistance or in goods. Cash assistance remains one of the most effective ways to help refugee or displaced families to secure their basic needs and live in dignity. Zakat funds are distributed as cash across Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq, and Mauritania. For Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, 100% of Zakat funds are currently dedicated to providing families with adequate shelter. In Nigeria, Zakat funds are dedicated to livelihoods projects, helping displaced Nigerians to rebuild their lives through starting small businesses and income generating initiatives.

This year, we are striving to reach refugee and internally displaced families in India, Egypt and Somalia. More information will be made available on our website in due course.

Our focus with the Refugee Zakat Fund is ease, speed, and transparency – we feel that only digital payments provide such characteristics. You may also transfer your Zakat to our dedicated interest-free bank account in Geneva.

  • Beneficiary: UNHCR Voluntary Funds Swiss Clearing Number: 240 BIC/Swift Code UBSWCHZH80A Beneficiary Bank: UBS AG, P.O. Box 2770, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
  • Currency USD IBAN : CH4800240240FP1003991
  • Currency EUR IBAN : CH9100240240FP1003993
  • Currency GBP IBAN : CH8000240240FP1003997

Yes, quarterly reports on collection and distribution of Zakat through the Refugee Zakat Fund are published on UNHCR’s Zakat. You can read our annual report here

Zero. The Refugee Zakat Fund is following a 100% Zakat policy. There will be no overhead or operational costs associated with donations on the Zakat page (i.e. 0%). The biometric registration of refugees by UNHCR is linked to cash assistance, which reduces overhead costs, ensures 100% accountability and the timeliness of assistance. Other overhead costs, such as bank transfer fees, will be covered from other sources of funding to UNHCR.

UNHCR follows a vulnerability assessment framework to identify eligible beneficiaries, including families comprising of widows and their children. UNHCR provides a wide range of humanitarian assistance programs such as provision of shelter, healthcare, education, and cash assistance. All Zakat funds received by UNHCR are dedicated strictly to compliant programs, mainly cash assistance, which complements other aid provided by UNHCR.

UNHCR does receive funding from governments, however, due to the sheer number of refugee emergencies globally, this funding doesn’t fully cover our important work in assisting vulnerable persons of concern to UNHCR. We are addressing that shortfall through alternative sources of donations and through innovative programmes such as the Refugee Zakat Fund.

UNHCR’s Zakat initiative has received more than 10 fatwas endorsing UNHCR as a legitimate recipient of Zakat funds, all from major Islamic scholars & institutions.  

  • International Shariah Research Academy (ISRA): was established in 2008 by the Central Bank of Malaysia as an Islamic finance and Shariah research institution, and it’s one the best recognized Islamic organization around the world.
  • The Muslim World League: was established in 1962 and is based in the Holy City of Mecca, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is one of the most important Islamic organizations in the world.
  • The International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA): was created in 1981 as a subsidiary of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and it’s located in Jeddah, KSA. It, It is an international body composed of over 65 Muslim scholars from all over the world and is as such considered one of the leading religious references for Muslims worldwide.
  • Tabah Foundation: is a non-profit organization that offers suggestions and recommendations based on Islamic values to opinion makers in order that they assume a wise approach that is beneficial to society. It has been a partner of UNHCR since 2014, playing a key role in advising UNHCR on Islamic philanthropy, in particular drafting the first fatwa report received by UNHCR for receiving and distributing Zakat to eligible beneficiaries. Tabah Foundation conducts an annual review of the Refugee Zakat Fund to ensure compliance.
  • Dar al-Ifta al-Missriyyahis one of Egypt and the world’s leading centres for Islamic legal research. It was established in 1895CE and is considered one of the earliest modern fatwa producing institutes.
  • The Senior Scholars’ Council of Moroccois the highest official religious authority in Morocco, which includes a fatwa council.
  • The Fatwa Council of Tarimis located in Hadramaut, Yemen. Hadramaut has been a major centre for scholarship for over a millennium and has produced many of the world’s leading scholars.
  • Dr Sheikh Ali Gomaais the former Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt and professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University.
  • Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyahis an instructor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.

The cash assistance programme is an innovative way to ensure 100% of Zakat donations go to people most in need, with no overhead costs. UNHCR operates an expansive distribution network in many countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Bangladesh and Yemen. For the distribution of cash, ATMs, IRIS scan, mobile wallets, and other technologies are used to deliver Zakat to vetted refugees and IDPs.

We know from years of experience administrating the programme that recipient refugees do spend the cash on essentials. The most vulnerable families remain supported by our cash programme until UNHCR helps them to become self-reliant or finds them other durable solutions.

The bulk of cash assistance is spent by refugees on rent, food, healthcare and debt repayment among other essentials. The cash assistance programme has saved families from eviction, addressed health conditions, child labour and other exploitative work conditions, and has ensured many families can send their children to school and repay the debts that lay heavy on their shoulders.

Ask your question here

  unhcr zakat faq loader