Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The Islamic Research Academy at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif announced its first global advocacy initiative in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to inspire kindness and support to the most vulnerable displaced persons over the winter months. This initiative comes with the onset of winter and worsening economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to the challenges faced by over 3.8 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in dire need of assistance. The initiative, titled “30 Days of Kindness”, is being launched under the guidance of His Eminence Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, as part of his support for Al-Azhar's humanitarian role at the regional and international levels.
The initiative will run in both Arabic and English leveraging social media networks and influential figures; it calls upon the humanitarian and religious values of people living in the region and around the world to support and advocate for individuals and families who require basic necessities, encourages Muslim and non-Muslim communities alike to take the initiative and help IDPs, refugees and all vulnerable communities. The initiative also aims to highlight the importance of strategic partnerships between religious and international humanitarian organizations in the service of the needy.
With the launch of this first-ever initiative, Dr. Nazir Ayad, Secretary-General of the Islamic Research Academy, stated: "We are incredibly pleased to launch this humanitarian initiative with UNHCR, as this cooperation combines Al-Azhar's mission to promote the humanitarian values of Islam with UNHCR's credibility and extensive experience in providing protection and assistance for refugees and IDPs in the region and around the world.” He added: “We hope that this joint initiative will be the start of a lasting cooperation between the two parties, aimed at highlighting the situation of the world's refugees and IDPs, as well as their needs and ways to assist them.”
The joint initiative will be implemented over four phases, each lasting one week and focusing on a specific topic which will be communicated through daily messages. The first phase focuses on providing shelter for refugees, IDPs and families in need in various countries, especially those without adequate housing and shelter to protect them from harsh winter conditions. The messages will invite people to donate towards alleviating the suffering of these families and protecting them from extreme weather elements.
On the occasion of the launch of the initiative, Khaled Khalifa, UNHCR Regional Representative to the GCC and Senior Adviser for Islamic Philanthropy, said: “We are honored to launch this outreach initiative in cooperation with the Islamic Research Academy at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, which will help draw attention to the situation of millions of forcibly displaced people in the MENA region facing winter with limited resources to keep them warm.” He added: “International humanitarian organizations, including UNHCR, should leverage the key role of religious institutions, such as Al-Azhar, in appealing to people's humanitarian values to help those in need. We look forward to building a long-term partnership with Al-Azhar Al-Sharif to serve refugee and internally displaced families.”
In the second phase, the initiative will focus on food relief, inviting the public to provide each family with one hot meal a day, or donating the value of this meal. Daily messages throughout the second week will highlight the importance of humanitarian philanthropy in creating social solidarity. The third phase will be set off with the topic of winter clothing, followed by the fourth phase, which will focus on supporting families in need to find a sustainable source of income and livelihood, to help reduce their long-term dependence on support and assistance.
To encourage global participation on social media, https://voices.unhcr.org/azhar/ has been set up to allow people to join the #30daysofkindness initiative by adding their voice on this page and receiving daily messages from the Al Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy and UNHCR on how to assist refugees, IDPs and families in need at large, with shelter, food, winter clothing and livelihood development.