Islamic Relief Ramadan food distributions

19 April 2022

Thousands of people across the world are missing out on vital food distributions for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan because of food price hikes, said Islamic Relief today. The charity distributes Ramadan food parcels to vulnerable people in 33 countries.

With the cost of food rising rapidly around the world, in some countries the charity has had to either reduce the number of people receiving food or reduce the quantity of food in each distribution.

Zaheer Afzal, who has coordinated Islamic Relief’s Ramadan food distributions for over 10 years, said:

“This is the most challenging Ramadan that we have ever had for food distributions, because food is now so expensive and, in some cases, impossible to procure. The war in Ukraine is contributing to this, but food prices were already rising before the war started. Now, it’s becoming a huge global crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic created many challenges for distributions, but that was nothing compared to the current situation. Our staff around the world are working around the clock to procure enough food for the planned distributions, all while fasting. I am very proud of them. 

“Ramadan is such an important time of the year for Muslims around the world, and in the face of so much suffering we want to ensure that families have nutritious and tasty food to celebrate their Iftars (when they break their fasts in the evening) and for the Eid celebrations. 

We are devastated that we have had to reduce the number of people receiving food during Ramadan this year. At this time of rising global hunger, we are desperate to feed as many people as we can.”

Yemen – High wheat prices due to war in Ukraine means less food for people during Ramadan 

High food and fuel prices in Yemen mean that over 1,300 people will lose out on urgently needed food supplies. The crisis in Yemen has resulted in one of the world’s biggest malnutrition crises, yet the Islamic Relief team has had to reduce the number of families receiving Ramadan food packs from 10,255 to 8,948.

Food prices were already high in Yemen after seven years of conflict, but the war in Ukraine – from where Yemen imports one third of its wheat – has led to prices increasing by 30 per cent.

Ibrahim Alhomadi, Acting Country Director for Islamic Relief Yemen, said:

“It is tragic that we had to cut the Ramadan food supplies that we provide when 21 million people – more than two thirds of the population – are in need of humanitarian aid and clinics supported by Islamic Relief are currently inundated with malnourished children on the verge of starvation.”

Somalia – Thousands of families go without food due to drastic food price increases 

In Somalia, Islamic Relief planned to distribute Ramadan food packs for 4,215 families but can now only distribute to 3,181 because of the price hikes in the country. The food packs contain 25kg rice, 25kg flour, 25kg sugar, 3 litres of cooking oil and 5kg of dates. The team will also distribute $50 in cash to 6,000 families, but sadly this money will buy families far less food than it did last year. The price of cooking oil has doubled since Ramadan last year, from US$4 to US$8 for 3 litres, while the price of a 25kg sack of rice has increased from US$13.7 to US$18, and a 25kg sack of flour from $US15 to $US18.

Shukri Ali, Islamic Relief’s programmes manager in Somalia, said:

“It’s very painful for us to have to cut the number of people who will be receiving Ramadan food packs as our country is in crisis after so many years of drought and conflict. The food prices are higher than ever, but the need is colossal. Millions of Somalis are at risk of famine. Child malnutrition rates are soaring and thousands of children are already dying.  

“I know that the families who receive the $50 in cash will be agonising over how they spend this money. They have more to buy than food, but even if they spend it all on food it will only be enough to last for a short period of time.” 

Cooking oil supplies cut due to 100% increase in prices in Indonesia 

The price of cooking oil In Indonesia started to rise last October and it has become very scarce in local markets. In one case, Islamic Relief staff heard reports of a woman dying while in a long queue to buy oil. The government capped the price at 14,000 rupiah (about $1) per litre in January and then removed it in mid-March. As a result, the prices have since doubled.

Islamic Relief staff have struggled to buy the oil at a competitive price. Despite trying to source alternatives such as coconut oil, in the end they have had to reduce the quantity of oil in the food parcels from six litres to four litres.

Zul Ashfi Mendrofa of Islamic Relief Indonesia said: “This is the first time ever that Islamic Relief has had to reduce items in our food packs. Cooking oil is very important during Ramadan as people eat lots of fried food. It’s ironic that Indonesia is the world’s top palm oil producer but cooking oil is so expensive and hard to find.” 

Despite the challenges of carrying out distributions during the Covid-19 pandemic, Islamic Relief was able to increase its reach in recent years. During Ramadan last year the charity’s food packs were distributed to more than one million people worldwide – the most ever.  

Notes to Editors 

Photos and video of Ramadan food distributions from around the world are available

Islamic Relief distributes Ramadan food packs in 33 countries. They are delivered to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We also distribute Eid gifts for children, including new clothes, school uniforms and shop vouchers, in 13 countries, including Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Yemen.