'23m Muslims Spend Ramadan Amid Conflict'
Saturday, 19 September 2009

At least 23 million Muslims worldwide have been fasting this Ramadan amid conflicts and disasters, British charity Oxfam and Muslim Aid revealed this week.

They said it was one of their hardest periods with many fasting Muslims having little more to eat than bread and water during the 30 days of the holy month and others having nothing to eat at all after sunset.

International humanitarian and development agencies Oxfam and Muslim Aid, in a joint press release on Saturday, called on donor countries and individuals to assist and support the millions of people across the Muslim world that are in desperate need of assistance, from food aid and shelter to access to clean water and healthcare.

Muslim Aid Acting CEO, Hamid Azad said: "During Ramadan this year millions of people have been going to sleep without food. In Iraq alone 5 million orphans and 2 million widows are living in desperate conditions. We are very concerned as to the amount and the effectiveness of the support they are receiving as the international community is not coming forward to help people with the much needed assistance they require."

Tareq Bakri, Oxfam's Middle East Programme Manager, said, "It would be a tragedy if by this time next year the people of Gaza still can't import enough food or if the 150,000 civilians in Yemen trapped in conflict are still receiving almost no assistance from the outside world. It is of the utmost urgency that the international community act on the enormous needs of so many ordinary Muslim families around the world, many who've lost their homes and their livelihoods."

As Ramadan comes to an end this year, six out of eighteen of all under-funded UN Emergency appeals are in Muslim countries. The number of people affected in these countries is at least 23 million people, which means that one in two people suffering from some of the most chronic humanitarian crises are Muslim.

Oxfam and Muslim Aid spoke to 13 different communities in Afghanistan, Gaza and Somalia who have all said that they have had far less food to eat during this period.

According to UN figures, Somalia, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Afghanistan are just a few of the places in the Muslim world facing severe funding shortfalls. Somalia has so far received just over half of an estimated $849 million needed in humanitarian funding this year.

Only half of the $650 million requested for Iraq this year to alleviate much of the suffering has so far been funded.

According to the United Nations, roughly 20 percent of trucks – carrying both commercial and humanitarian items – allowed into Gaza before the blockade began in June 2007, are let in today.


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