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‘Every Gift Counts’ UNHCR campaign seeks to support refugees in ‘time of global suffering’

Compassion, generosity, kindness more fundamental today than ever before — High commissioner

By JT - Apr 23,2020 - Last updated at Apr 23,2020

A five-year-old Yemeni boy stands outside a site for internally displaced people in Marib, Yemen, where conflict has forced thousands to flee (Photo courtesy of UNHCR)

AMMAN — On the eve of Ramadan, the UNHCR has called for support for refugees and displaced people, as millions are facing deprivation amid the COVID-19 crisis


According to a UNHCR statement, millions of people who have fled wars and violence are among those around the world preparing to observe the holy month of Ramadan, under the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis.


“Refugees and internally displaced people are frequently among the most marginalised and vulnerable members of society and are particularly at risk during this pandemic,” the statement read, noting that, together with the local communities that host them, refugees often have limited access to water, sanitation and health systems, with scarce socio-economic resources for survival.


Many of those observing Ramadan will be doing so without the certainty of food on the table at the end of the day to break their fast, the statement said.


"This year, we are entering the holy month of Ramadan at a time of great global suffering. But it is in the essence of Ramadan that many can find solace and hope,”  said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.


“Everyone is vulnerable in the face of this pandemic — but refugees, the internally displaced and impoverished host communities are among the most exposed. At a time when our collective humanity is being tested, they are in more need than ever of life-saving help and support," he was quoted in the statement as saying.


Ramadan is a month of reflection, compassion and giving; a time for families and communities to come together. This year, as the world fights a pandemic which is forcing millions into confinement and social distancing, long-standing Ramadan traditions will have to adapt to measures designed to protect public health, according to the statement.


Millions of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) observing Ramadan this year are already facing a difficult reality. Most refugees live a hand-to-mouth existence, reliant on casual labour opportunities that have now vanished as restrictions of movement and other public health measures trigger a global economic downturn.


Many have been displaced for years, are already heavily indebted and are forced to skip meals, or to resort to child labour or forced marriages.


The UNHCR is working with governments and humanitarian partners to ensure that refugees and internally displaced people are included in national COVID-19 response plans, and the organisation is expanding cash and other forms of assistance.


However, urgent and additional financial support is needed now to help ensure that people can survive these challenging times, according to the statement.


Coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan, the UNHCR on Thursday launched a global fundraising campaign, “Every Gift Counts” to help raise funds for the most vulnerable refugees and IDPs.


“Contributions are urgently required to prevent more people from slipping deeper into poverty in light of the COVID-19 crisis,” the statement said.


“Compassion, generosity and kindness — the true values of Zakat giving — are more fundamental today than ever before,” Grandi added.


The global Ramadan campaign aims to raise additional funds to provide vital support such as shelter, food, clean water and cash assistance to the most vulnerable refugees and IDPs, including orphans, female-headed households, the elderly in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Malian refugees in Mauritania and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the statement said.


This campaign will provide supplementary funding to the UNHCR, allowing it to continue its regular programming as well as provide much needed support to meet new mounting needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution, the statement said.


The agency delivers life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, helps safeguard fundamental human rights and develops solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future, according to the statement.

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