Red Crescent to give away Dh1m every day of Ramadan

The Zakat Fund also plans to collect more donations during Ramadan than in all of 2009.

As the Zakat Fund announced yesterday that it planned to collect more donations during Ramadan than in all of 2009, the Red Crescent Authority said 65 nations would benefit from its efforts. Officials with the government-run Zakat Fund, which collects alms tax, said they were encouraged by the amounts already donated this year, which are roughly twice those collected during the same period last year.

This Ramadan its donations target is Dh72 million, more than the Dh67m it collected all of last year. The money will be distributed on a case-by-case basis to the needy within the country, such as widowed women, people with special needs, the poor, the sick and the elderly. The UAE's Red Crescent Authority (RCA) - which traces its history to 1983and is one of 186 members of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - will take a more international approach to disbursing aid.

The RCA said yesterday that it would spend Dh1m per day during Ramadan on projects around the world, with much of the money being used to buy food and clothes in dozens of nations. It plans to provide iftar meals at the courtyard of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, in the West Bank, and at Palestinian camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Yemen, as well as in Gaza, which is under an Israeli-imposed blockade. The agency also plans to feed Somali refugees and displaced individuals from Yemen's Saada region.

Officials also laid out plans for exactly how the money would be spent - through tents where food is distributed - to keep donations from ending up in the hands of extremists. The RCA's spending on overseas projects last year hit Dh460m, all based on the desires of the donors. Officials assured donors that if they preferred to have their money spent on projects in the UAE it would be distributed in accordance with their wishes. Iftar meals, distributed from more than 90 tents set up around the country, were a major way of helping those in the Emirates, officials said.

Zakat and charity donations rise in Ramadan, when many Muslims pay the annual tax. The holy month is expected to begin on or around Aug 11.