The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the IsDB’s poverty alleviation arm, the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, have signed an agreement to launch the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees, an Islamic social finance fund to support forcibly displaced people.
The collaborative fund targets to provide financial support to programs and projects for refugees internally placed and hosted by OIC member states. Muslim countries are on both sides of the forcibly displaced people crisis where a substantial number of refugees originate from Muslim countries while Muslim nations also host considerable numbers of refugees with Turkey hosting the largest number at 3.7 million people.
Chart 1: People displaced across borders by country of origin in mid-2021
Chart 2: People displaced across borders by host country in mid-2021
“Millions of people continue to be forced from their homes due to war, violence, persecution and discrimination and they need and deserve our support. Innovative sources of Islamic social financing, such as this groundbreaking agreement with the IsDB, will enable UNHCR to help refugees and other forcibly displaced people with the protection and assistance needed to live in better, more dignified conditions,” said Filippo Grandi, UNHCR’s high commissioner.
UNHCR added refugees to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) indicators in 2019 after growing voices and concerns over a ‘forced displacement’ gap in the original SDG indicator framework. According to UNHCR’s 2021 Mid-Year Trends report, the number of forcibly displaced people has surpassed 84 million globally in mid-2021.
“Forced displacement needs are at a record high and continue to rise. No institution alone could carry the burden. We need to strengthen existing partnerships and explore innovative solutions for the plight of the forcibly displaced,” said Dr Muhammad Al Jasser, the president of the IsDB Group. This collaboration highlights the value of Islamic social finance in achieving SDGs at a ground level. There may still be untapped potential. More such collaborative efforts will continue to demonstrate how Islamic social finance instruments including Waqf, Sadaqah and Zakat can contribute to sustainable development.