UN launches Ramadan campaign to help world's refugees

Public urged to donate to agency's zakat fund during holy month

Palestinian volunteers distribute Ramadan meals at the West Bank refugee camp of Amari in Ramallah in 2022. AP
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The UN has launched its Ramadan campaign to mobilise much-needed financial support to help the world's refugees.

Last year, more than 100 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes due to war, violence, persecution and human rights abuses, said news agency Wam, quoting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

There are currently 103 million forcibly displaced people around the world, according to the latest statistics from the UNHCR. More than 32 million of those are classified as refugees.

Many have been struggling to survive for years as crises remain unresolved.

The devastating earthquakes which recently hit Turkey and Syria have added to the problem.

In Turkey, the earthquake affected 15 million, including many refugees from Syria.

In Syria, 8.8 million people were affected, including families that were already displaced because of the country's long-running crisis.

Syrian family shelter in cave in Antakya

Syrian family shelter in cave in Antakya

The UNHCR has appealed for more than $200 million to provide aid to families in Syria and Turkey.

In Turkey, authorities estimate the total cost of the damage incurred in Turkey is estimated at $103.6 billion – equal to about 9 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.

Donors at a EU-hosted conference last week pledged €7 billion ($7.52 billion) to help the two countries recover.

The total cost of the damage incurred in Turkey is estimated at $103.6 billion – equal to about 9 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.

The United Nations has set the "recovery costs" for Syria at $14.8 billion.

Flash floods last week in the region further compounded the misery.

Aid groups had urged donors to step up their commitments after the UN complained of the poor response to a call it made in mid February for urgent funding.

In Yemen, the humanitarian crises is deteriorating day by day, with 4.5 million people internally displaced and more than two thirds of the population living under the poverty line.

The UN estimates that 21.6 million people in Yemen need humanitarian assistance and protection. Yemeni communities are overstretched, and yet they shelter some 100,000 refugees and asylum seekers from other war-torn countries.

Yet, this year UNHCR has received just 8 per cent of the US$ 320 million it requires for its work in the country.

In Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees continue to suffer. They do not get proper nutrition and are left without shelter, sanitation and livelihoods.

With the dire situation in its sixth year, sustained financial support and solutions are needed to help 978,000 Rohingyas and their Bangladeshi host communities.

“UNHCR is urgently calling for support to address the growing humanitarian needs of displaced people observing Ramadan facing increasing challenges across the world,” said Khaled Khalifa, senior adviser to the High Commissioner and the UNHCR’s representative to Gulf Co-operation Council countries.

“We are working tirelessly to ensure that those affected by war and displacement are provided with immediate and long-term relief.”

Since its inception in 2017, the UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund has benefitted more than six million people in 26 countries.

In 2022, it received more than $21.3 million in zakat contributions, including $137,000 as Zakat Al Fitr, a small obligatory donation. More than $16.7 million was collected in sadaqa donations, including $398,000 as sadaqa jariyah, or voluntary contributions.

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Updated: March 28, 2023, 3:14 PM