National Zakat Foundation Worldwide Declares UNRWA Programmes for Vulnerable Palestine Refugees Zakat Eligible

20 November 2017

The National Zakat Foundation (NZF) Worldwide announced that it certifies the food and cash assistance programmes of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) are Zakat eligible. Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, mandates that Muslims contribute 2.5 per cent of their net wealth in charitable giving to the needy and the poor. In order to be Zakat eligible, an organization or programme must be able to confirm that beneficiaries of Zakat meet specific eligibility criteria of being “poor and needy.”

“We have found UNRWA food and cash assistance programmes, which specifically target Palestine refugees who are financially unable to meet their basic needs, meet this criteria and hope that this partnership with the international Muslim community, whose support and charitable giving is essential to the work that UNRWA performs, will reap results for the most vulnerable refugees,” said Azim Kidwai, Chairman of NZF Worldwide.

NZF Worldwide is an umbrella organization which seeks to build Zakat institutions in countries that lack official Zakat state infrastructure. Currently working in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, NZF Worldwide supports Muslim communities by collecting and distributing their Zakat contributions according to scripture.

“We are deeply grateful to NZF for this certification,” said Francoise Vanni, UNRWA Director of the External Relations and Communication Department. “Our food and cash assistance programmes are a crucial component of our work and provide lifesaving aid to Palestine refugees. In Syria, for instance, UNRWA distributed cash assistance grants to 430,000 Palestine refugees this year. Palestine refugees from Syria who are now living in Jordan and Lebanon also depend greatly upon food and cash assistance from UNRWA, as 85-95 per cent of them are food insecure and face extremely limited economic opportunities.”

Of the 1.3 million Palestine refugees living under the ongoing blockade in Gaza, some 1 million are food insecure and vulnerable and in need of regular food assistance from UNRWA.  As the Agency’s humanitarian programmes continue to face increasing financial constraints, programmes such as the food and cash assistance are at risk of being under-funded.

“With this declaration of Zakat eligibility, UNRWA can ensure that the most vulnerable Palestine refugees across all its areas of operation are able to meet their basic human rights,” reiterated Mr. Kidwai. “I certainly hope that Muslim donors from around the world, but particularly the region, remember the importance of giving their Zakat locally in these most difficult times.”

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)258 90724
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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