Renewal of Zakat Certificate from the National Zakat Foundation (NZF) Expands UNRWA Zakat Programme

11 November 2021

The National Zakat Foundation (NZF) Worldwide has renewed and expanded the zakat certification and eligibility for the food and cash assistance programmes of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, mandates that Muslims contribute 2.5 per cent of their net wealth in charitable giving to those struggling with poverty. 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.”

"The renewal of the zakat certificate and eligibility for UNRWA comes after reviewing and finding their food and cash programme continues to not only fundamentally align with Shariah but is very unique in its scope,” said Azim Kidwai, Chairman of NZF Worldwide

Three-quarters of the Palestine refugee population is living below the poverty line, while more than 1.7 million rely on food and cash assistance from UNRWA to meet their basic needs.

“We are deeply grateful to NZF for the renewal of this certification,” said Karim Amer, UNRWA Director of Partnerships. “Our food and cash assistance programmes are a vital lifeline for Palestine refugees across the region. In Lebanon, for instance, UNRWA is on the ground distributing emergency cash assistance to Palestine refugees who are struggling immensely due to the economic crisis which has weakened people’s ability to access basic commodities such as food, housing and health care.”

Along with the zakat certificate from NZF, UNRWA has obtained two official fatwas (Islamic edict) from al-Azhar and al- Aqsa mosques supporting the eligibility of vulnerable Palestine refugees for zakat funds.

“The UNRWA commitment to Palestine refugees is unwavering and, therefore, moving forward with zakat is a great step,” reiterated Mr. Kidwai. “It is a significant opportunity for all Muslims worldwide to support Palestine refugees by contributing their zakat to UNRWA."

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 5.7 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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:

Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140