Qatar Charity and UNHCR extend a lifeline to 30,000 Syrian refugee families

Switzerland. UNHCR signs agreement with Qatar Charity.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Sheikh Hamad bin Nasser Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Charity, signed an agreement today to support over 30,000 vulnerable Syrian refugee families living in Jordan and Lebanon.  © UNHCR/Susan Hopper

GENEVA – Sheikh Hamad bin Nasser Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Charity, and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi signed an agreement today at the Geneva headquarters of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to support over 30,000 vulnerable Syrian refugee families living in Jordan and Lebanon.

The agreement is linked to a generous contribution of over US$10 million by Qatar Charity that will be channeled towards UNHCR’s Zakat Initiative. The donation will help secure much-needed cash assistance for over 150,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan until the end of 2018.

UNHCR is the first UN agency to provide an efficient and trusted way for people to fulfil zakat obligations. Through UNHCR’s Zakat initiative, one hundred per cent of zakat contributions go directly to those most in need.

UNHCR’s Zakat Initiative is fully compliant with the principle of Islamic social financing and has been endorsed by a number of leading Islamic scholars and institutions. The aim of the initiative is to help refugees, who are entitled to receive zakat, help themselves through the provision of monthly cash grants to address their most essential needs including rent, food, education and health care.

High Commissioner Grandi praised Qatar Charity’s collaboration with UNHCR, noting, “Qatar Charity’s donation to the UNHCR Zakat Initiative is ground-breaking. The generosity of tens of thousands of people in donating their zakat contributions to refugees in need is an exemplary act of solidarity.

At a time when funding is not keeping up with needs, diversified donor support, such as Qatar Charity’s contribution to UNHCR’s Zakat programme, allows us to improve the lives and well-being of those most in need, while also presenting a unique and innovative way for donors to support refugees and the forcibly displaced.”

Highlighting the importance of supporting Syrian refugees, Qatar Charity Chairman, Sheikh Hamad bin Nasser Al Thani, commented: "Syrian refugees face difficulties beyond imagination to meet their basic needs, after having struggled to seek safety and often after seven years of displacement. We must therefore do everything we can to support those who are victims of circumstances beyond their control. UNHCR’s Zakat Initiative provides us and others with alternative ways to directly support refugees with cash assistance.”

Over 1.6 million Syrian refugees are registered with UNHCR in Lebanon and Jordan, with the vast majority of them living below the poverty line (approximately 89 per cent of refugees in Jordan and 71 per cent in Lebanon). It is estimated that some 1.2 million refugees living in the Middle East and North Africa region are eligible for cash assistance.

UNHCR and Qatar Charity have a long track record of cooperation in support of displaced people over many years. Since the start of the year alone, Qatar Charity has provided over 26 million US dollars to UNHCR in support of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in Bangladesh as well as those affected by the humanitarian crises in Somalia and Syria.

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