A Rohingya woman holds her son and daughter after being moved to a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund assisted 648,476 internally displaced people in the first half of the year.

According to a report released on Monday, $38.1 million was raised through global donors, surpassing the target of $26 million.

Donations received through the fund have so far helped more than 111,209 families comprising 649,476 individuals in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania through cash assistance.

For the first time, zakat was raised online by UNHCR offices in the UK, Canada, and a number of South East Asian countries.

In May this year, the fund also expanded its reach to cover displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh, making it the first crisis outside the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region to receive zakat assistance.

In Yemen alone, $13.5 million has been disbursed as emergency cash to support displaced families in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

“The impact of the contributions to UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund on the lives of refugees and internally displaced persons is remarkable,” said Houssam Chahin, UNHCR’s Head of Private Sector Partnerships in the Mena region.

“It is a testament of the instrumental role that Islamic philanthropy can play in the humanitarian response to displacement crisis globally. We are grateful to all individuals and institutions who continue to entrust UNHCR with their zakat and for their resolute support for displaced persons around the globe.”

UNHCR aims to substantially scale up its support through zakat funds to help a million displaced persons by the end of 2019. The target for zakat donations this year has been revised to $44 million.

Rafiuddin Shikoh, CEO and Managing Director of Dinar Standard, the growth strategy firm working with UNHCR on the production of the report, said: “The Refugee Zakat Fund has gained substantial momentum since its launch earlier this year. With its expansion to Bangladesh and already exceeding the original target of $26 million for 2019, the Refugee Zakat Fund is gearing up to showcase the impact it can have on the lives of millions of displaced families.”