The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has partnered with the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), the humanitarian arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), to launch a new philanthropic fund to support refugees.
The launch of the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees (GIFR) comes as the number of people forcibly displaced around the world because of persecution, conflict, violence, and human rights violations has exceeded 100 million – the highest level since records began.
A fully sharia-compliant vehicle, the GIFR will comprise a Waqf fund and a non-Waqf fund, both of which will be invested according to the Islamic Finance principles with the proceeds going to finance UNHCR’s programmes in areas such as education, health, and economic empowerment in IsDB member states.
Speaking at the fund’s launch, on the side-lines of the 2022 UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, complained about “a lack of focus on real diplomacy” to address the causes of displacement.
But he said in the absence of political solutions, “by coupling the solidarity, support, steadfastness of religious organisations and individuals, along with UNHCR operational expertise, we can really and truly make a difference in the lives of millions”.
Khaled Khalifa, UNHCR senior advisor and GCC representative, described the launch as “a milestone in both the humanitarian and financial sectors”.
The GIFR was “an innovative financing tool”, he said, that would provide sustainable funding streams for humanitarian crises”. And he added: “This is particularly pertinent at a time when the world is witnessing record displacement, wars, climate shocks and protracted humanitarian situations,” he added.