Houssam Chahine, Head of Private Sector Partnerships for MENA, UNHCR speaking to Salaam Gateway on Apr 22, 2020.

Islamic Finance

COVID-19 'emergency within emergency' for refugees: UNHCR seeks lifesaving zakat funds

UNHCR's Refugee Zakat Fund raised $43.165 million in 2019 that went to just over 1 million beneficiaries in eight countries. 

This year, the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus puts the most vulnerable, including refugees, at an even greater risk. Houssam Chahine, UNHCR's Head of Private Sector Partnerships for the MENA region, calls the pandemic "an emergency within an emergency" for the refugee situation. 

The need for zakat and sadaqah for refugees this year is "so big", he says. 

Salaam Gateway speaks to Houssam about the strategy this year to raise as much funds as possible from institutional partners and philanthropists as well as individuals. UNHCR, says Houssam, can now move beyond the MENA region to raise funds globally, after solidifying its credibility with regards collecting and distributing zakat in the Middle East. 

He is confident UNHCR can raise more than what it did last year because during challenging times, people find a way to give more, he says. 



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