Join us in creating a better world for all.


UNHCR, the United Nation's Refugee Agency

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives and building a better future for refugees, displaced communities, and stateless people. We work to protect rights, ensuring all have the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge from violence, persecution, war, and disaster.

Read More

Islamic Philanthropy Across the Globe



The impact

Impact of the Refugee Zakat Fund

Zakat and Sadaqah Distribution Countries


Partnerships in Focus

UNHCR is proudly partnered 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

Established in 2018, the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund is dedicated to assisting Syrian refugee youth in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as children affected by war and disasters residing in the UAE.

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, following a resolution adopted during a meeting of the World Muslim Congress.


The International Islamic Charity Organization (IICO) is a humanitarian organization. It is an independent, multi-faceted charity that provides its humanitarian services to those in need in the world without discrimination or intolerance away from interference in politics or ethnic conflicts.


Hear the experiences of refugees around the world

Um Mu’mineen

Sudanese refugee living in Indonesia

Despite being far away from her homeland and loved ones in Sudan, Um Mu’mineen faces the challenges of displacement with strength and determination as she raises her two children in a new country. Her journey exemplifies the transformative power of Zakat contributions in empowering vulnerable families.


Yemeni displaced mother

After eight years of conflicts, the situation in Yemen is dire, with 11 million people facing crisis levels of food insecurity. The country teeters on the brink of famine, and families displaced by conflict are four times more likely to experience hunger. Disturbingly, 62% of families report being forced to reduce meal intakes to ensure their children are fed.


Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh

Liaqat, a Rohingya father of six, reminisces about the joys of Ramadan back home in Myanmar, a place he lovingly refers to as ‘a piece of heaven.’ However, the current reality he faces is one of immense difficulty as he struggles to provide his children with basic necessities such as food and medicine.


Somali displaced person

In the arid lands of Somalia, where the longest drought in 40 years has plunged communities into a relentless battle for survival, the story of Issack, a Somali displaced person, is testament to the profound impact of Islamic philanthropy on situations such as these.

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 distributing Zakat in cash to eligible refugees and IDPs, including in Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, Türkiye and Yemen. Providing them with cash enables them to prioritize and fulfil their needs in a dignified manner and contributes to the local economy. This allows them to meet their most pressing needs, as well as build and support livelihoods projects, supporting them to get out of poverty.

UNHCR is also advocating for refugees’ rights to work in their host countries. When refugees are able to 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 Nigeria, Zakat funds increased the economic and social involvement of extremely poor displaced families via distribution of livelihoods kits allowing them to launch small businesses. In many respects, this project aligns with another SDG 1 target: “by 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property”.

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 countries such as Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, Türkiye and Yemen, enabling them to meet their urgent needs, on top which is food. In Yemen for example, after eight years of violence and conflict, Yemen is on the brink of a famine that could be the worst seen in decades. Economic instability, financial hardship, and skyrocketing food prices have left over 17 million Yemeni people struggling to feed their children – let alone themselves. In this context, 97% of beneficiaries use the cash received to buy food.

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, with health being on top of beneficiaries’ priorities, including for essential treatments and medical care, doctor’s fees, and medication. In addition, health facilities were rehabilitated in Syria through Sadaqah funds, following the earthquake that happened last February.

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, transportation, and addressing other financial barriers that keep children out of school. Zakat funds has also been channeled to support primary and secondary refugee students, including Sudanese refugee children in Ethiopia through the provision of school supplies, enabling them to access equitable education and opportunities for a better future.

The Refugee Zakat Fund has made similar efforts with regards to another SDG 4 target: “ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university”. The Fund has supported 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.

Gender Equality

Upon completing the vulnerability assessment framework to identify beneficiaries eligible for assistance, Zakat and Sadaqah funds in countries such as Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, Türkiye and Yemen are then dedicated towards cash assistance to extremely vulnerable families – including 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 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.

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 building and rehabilitation of boreholes in Ethiopia, aiming at providing clean water to 329,950 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, like in Mauritania for example.

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.

These aforementioned activities align UNHCR strongly with an SDG 8 target which promotes “development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-small- and medium-sized enterprises”.

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. That being said, Zakat funds helped provide much needed assistance to vulnerable displaced families in countries such as Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, Türkiye and Yemen, 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

UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund contributed to SDG 11 target which wants to “ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums” by 2030, through both Zakat and Sadaqah. Zakat funds were channeled to distribute shelter materials to most vulnerable Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, while Sadaqah supported shelter programmes for Somali refugees in Kenya and IDPs in Yemen.

Peace, Justice And Strong Institutions

Zakat funds have helped provide vulnerable refugee families with cash assistance 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 (UASC – i.e. children under the age of 18 traveling and living alone in displacement) 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”.

Partnerships For The Goals

Among SDG 17’s numerous targets is 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.


The Refugee Zakat Fund

Launched in 2017 by UNHCR, the Refugee Zakat Fund has been a crucial partnership mechanism that is effective, compliant, and trusted by institutions and individuals. Since its inception, over six million beneficiaries have been assisted. This is thanks to more than $192 million that has been received through the Refugee Zakat Fund, of which over 78% 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.

Read More

Key highlights


Ramadan campaign

Main -As forcibly displaced people worldwide dealt with the harrowing effects of natural disasters such as the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye,

Read More

Dhul Hijjah and Sadaqah Jariyah campaign

In June 2023, UNHCR embarked on a significant campaign with the purpose of improving the lives of displaced people in Ethiopia.

Read More

Annual Report Launches

In March, UNHCR launched its 5th Islamic Philanthropy Annual Report, showcasing the impact of UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund since 2017

Read More

Global Islamic Fund for Refugees

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).

Read More
This site is registered on as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.