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Rohingyas get $0.52m from UN Refugee Zakat Fund

  • Published at 07:48 pm August 22nd, 2019
File photo of Rohingya children at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh is set to receive a total of $22.7 million of the funds

The United Nations refugee agency's Refugee Zakat Fund has disbursed around $522,530 to benefit around 670,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

The distribution was currently in progress, said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), reports salaamgateway.com, a global reference for Islamic economy intelligence, news, insights, information and data.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas living in a number of refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

More than 700,000 of them crossed over the border, fleeing unbridled persecution unleashed by the Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist mobs and people from different ethnic groups since August 25, 2017.

UNHCR's Refugee Zakat Fund was launched in last April as a new structure of its zakat program that started in 2016. It is a dedicated non-interest-bearing account in Switzerland.

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Meanwhile, the Refugee Zakat Fund surpassed its $26 million target for 2019, raising $38.15 million from contributions in the first half of the year, UNHCR said in a statement on Wednesday.

The funds raised from January through June assisted 648,476 internally displaced persons and refugees.

UNHCR, now revising up its 2019 target by 69.2% to $44 million, expects the funds to help over 1 million beneficiaries.

Some 93%, or $35.5 million, of the $38.15 million raised up to June 30 came from large and private donors chiefly from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, USA and Egypt.

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In the first half of 2019, $15.9 million of the zakat funds raised were distributed as multi-purpose cash assistance to refugees across Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, and Bangladesh.

Yemen received the lion's share of $13.5 million, followed by around $710,930 to Jordan, and $603,780 to Lebanon.

Bangladesh is set to receive a total of $22.7 million of the funds raised through June, according to salaamgateway.com.

The UN agency said in a study released on Wednesday that the Refugee Zakat Fund would demonstrate the impact it can have by the end of 2019 by leveraging its expanded footprint in Bangladesh, enhancing its contribution to linking zakat with refugees via partnerships and thought leadership, and expanding the scope of Islamic philanthropy to include sadaqah and waqf.

UNHCR has had to identify new sources of funding to support the humanitarian response to situations such as the one faced by around 960,000 refugees from Myanmar hosted in Bangladesh, Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR Director of the Regional Bureau of Asia Pacific, said in the study.

"The Rohingya crisis has received less than 30% of the $307.6 million needed for 2019, with hopes that Islamic philanthropy in general and zakat in particular, will play a role in supporting humanitarian programs for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh," said the director.

"We believe that Islamic philanthropy is yet to realize its full potential within the global humanitarian sector, and it is our responsibility to effectively channel this potential to not just address the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees, but to provide them with a secure and sustainable future," he added.