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UNICEF and the Islamic Bank: Helping the Most Vulnerable People Until the Pandemic Ends

UNICEF and the Islamic Bank: Helping the Most Vulnerable People Until the Pandemic Ends

With the advent of the holy month of Ramadan, hearts and minds are not only drifting toward the closest and dearest to us, but also toward the most vulnerable groups in our society. Today, the world faces an unprecedented challenge to overcome the critical stage of the pandemic and enable every person in the world to gain access to the COVID-19 vaccine. UNICEF, the largest international organization concerned with children, and the Islamic Development Bank Group, the largest AAA-rated development organization in the Muslim world, share a common view of the critical role that Islamic finance and philanthropy must play in stimulating social and economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic. It is clear to all of us that every passing day greatly affects the healthy physical and mental development of children. Indeed, for many children around the world, life stopped with the outbreak of the pandemic – especially for those who have lost access to educational opportunities during the past year. The world is now in a race against time to ensure the speedy and just distribution of vaccines to all populations, especially those belonging to vulnerable groups, such as refugees, children and the elderly. UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank have been at the forefront of this effort. UNICEF is in the process of purchasing two billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX initiative. Meanwhile, the Islamic Development Bank is working with governments in each country to help ensure that vaccines reach the necessary populations in the fastest and most efficient way. Further, the Islamic Development Bank has committed over $3.6 billion last year alone to support its 57 member states. Still, access to tests, treatments and vaccinations remains a distant dream for the most vulnerable people. Therefore, we believe that Islamic charitable work can make a big difference. UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank Group have established the Global Islamic Charitable Fund for Children, and we believe that this fund can serve as a vital tool to direct and coordinate Islamic charitable work, and to give the most vulnerable people the opportunity to overcome the pandemic and achieve sustainable development goals related to children. Two of our first partners, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair Refugee Education Fund in the United Arab Emirates, have already taken the initiative to support vital programs that benefit children in Jordan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. We would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to these partners for their laudable work to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Through this new fund, Muslim philanthropists have an opportunity to provide charitable financial contributions to those who need help most, while benefiting from the support of a reputable, effective and transparent Islamic financial institution. Through the fund, we can work alongside national health programs to ensure that vaccines reach the most vulnerable groups with fairness and respect for human dignity. During this holy month, we are reminded once again that our battle against COVID-19 won’t end until everyone – not just the rich and wealthy – is vaccinated. Devoting resources to this goal is not only the noble thing to do; it’s also the only way to lift the world out of this pandemic. – Dr. Bandar M. H. Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank, and Henrietta Faure, UNICEF executive director

 

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