At this most blessed and holy time of year, everyone at Islamic Relief Worldwide would like to wish you Eid Mubarak. Those who are on Hajj this year have spent the day of Arafat seeking Allah’s forgiveness and many of us who are not fortunate to be there have spent the day fasting.

As you spend time with your families and friends this Eid, Islamic Relief is helping families celebrate Eid in some of the most dangerous conflict zones in the world, such as Yemen, Iraq and Syria; and those affected by natural disasters, such as the recent flooding in Bangladesh.

Every year Muslims around the world celebrate the festival of Eid ul Adha with the ritual of Qurbani, which involves families gathering to eat meat from animals symbolically sacrificed to Allah to commemorate the sacrificial devotion of the Prophet Ibrahim. For many, living in besieged and hard to reach areas, this would be impossible if it was not for Islamic Relief.

Reaching besieged areas in Syria

In Syria, we are providing more than 7,000 sheep and 19 cows in besieged areas in Homs, rural Damascus and northern Syria where hundreds of thousands of people are trapped and aid is almost impossible to deliver.

In northern Homs and rural Damascus, there are so few animals that prices have rocketed and are now beyond the means of even middle class families. Malnutrition is rife.

“There is untold suffering in these besieged areas and people feel abandoned and forgotten,” said Mohammed Rebei, Islamic Relief’s  Syria Programme Coordinator. “We have to get food and other aid through to them and let them know that people care, especially during Eid.”

At £1.5 million, Syria is one of our biggest and most expensive Qurbani operations, with cows costing approximately £1,500 each.

Hindered by fighting and flash floods in Yemen

Travel is restricted in many parts of the country, but we will be distributing 2,900 goats benefitting 11,600 families in Sana’a, Aden, Saa’ada, Amran, Lahj and Taiz, prioritising people who have been displaced by the conflict. Taiz is particularly challenging because of the heavy fighting that is still going on there, as well as the flash floods which started on Wednesday, killing up to 15 people.

We were unable to buy the goats in Yemen so we contracted a supplier who brought the goats from Ethiopia through Djibouti and the Red Sea.

Afzal  said: “Delivering Qurbani across the country is an enormous undertaking given the insecurity, travel restrictions and exorbitant fuel costs, but the suffering and level of need is so great that our staff are determined to be able to provide some kind of solace in these difficult times and such an important moment in the Muslim calendar.”

Islamic Relief staff have also provided gift vouchers to more than 600 orphaned children in Sana’a, to be able to buy new clothes for Eid.

Reaching the desperate and traumatised in Mosul

In Iraq we will be distributing 611 sheep in Anbar, Mosul, Erbil, Kirkuk, Baghdad and Karbala, focussing on displaced people and returnees. Mosul is a particular priority, with the appalling levels of destruction, huge loss of lives, high levels of malnutrition and trauma and desperation of the people.

Providing Qurbani in Rakhine, Myanmar

Over 100 people have died during the recent violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State during three days of violence that has seen civilians killed, buildings burned down and landmines planted. Thousands of people are fleeing their home in desperate circumstances. Islamic Relief will be delivering Qurbani to people affected by the conflict in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, with the help of local partners.

Lack of electricity huge problem for families in Gaza

Thousands of families are living in dire poverty in Gaza and look forward to receiving meat from Islamic Relief. For many, it is the only meat they have eaten in months. This year Islamic Relief is distributing 635 cows to poor and vulnerable families, including those with small children, the elderly, disabled and only one parent. Normally they would refrigerate or freeze the meat so it lasts as long as possible, but this year they will have to eat it straight away due to the lack of electricity. At the moment it is only available for three hours a day.

Qurbani, just like the food distributions for Ramadan, is a huge annual aid operation for Islamic Relief. We will be delivering sheep, goats and cows to 3.5 million people in 33 countries across the world. We are enormously proud of our staff, local partners and community members who work so hard to make this happen.