Providing Qurbani to families in difficult circumstances

Sharing a family meal of Qurbani meat at Eid al-Adha meat is one of the most cherished celebrations in the Islamic calendar.

In many of the communities where Islamic Relief works, however, people cannot afford to buy meat or it is not available. This includes countries adversely affected by drought or conflict, such as Somalia and Syria.

We want to make sure that as many people as possible living in poverty or challenging  circumstances can enjoy taking part, so every year we launch a major aid operation to make this happen.

This year we aim to provide Qurbani for 3.5 million people in 33 countries around the world, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the Palestinian Territories.

Our teams on the ground manage the whole process: assessing who is most in need; finding the meat suppliers; ensuring the animals are healthy and are slaughtered humanely; and making sure that the meat is distributed on time for all those who have been selected.

Not surprisingly, there are huge challenges involved. In Yemen, for example, fuel shortages and restrictions of movement pose enormous difficulties for our staff and local partners.

We will be distributing 2,600 goats and benefiting 10,400 people in six Yemeni governorates: Sana’a, Aden, Sa’ada, Taiz, Lahj and Amran. Supplying this meat is a real blessing in a country where almost two thirds of the population do not know where their next meal is coming from.

In Syria we will be supplying sheep and cows to many areas where people have been cut off by the conflict – in the besieged area of Homs and rural Damascus, for example.

Following the liberation of Mosul in Iraq, we will be distributing thousands of sheep to some of the communities hit hardest by the conflict over a long period of time and in the most recent upheaval – both in Mosul itself and in the surrounding areas.

Across East Africa, thousands of people and livestock have died as a result of prolonged drought. We will be distributing animals in some of the worst-affected areas of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, prioritising families who are acutely malnourished, pastoralists who have lost all their animals, displaced people and families headed by children, single women and the disabled.

Despite the loss of livestock in these areas, our teams are confident that we will be able to find the number of animals needed.

The people of Gaza are suffering through an unprecedented electricity crisis, only able to access power for between two and fours a day. This obviously presents huge challenges for the slaughter process and refrigeration. But our teams on the ground will overcome this in order to reach as many families as possible living in dire poverty.

Across the globe, our teams face a huge number of hurdles and challenges but we will not be deterred. The sight of happy families and smiling children, receiving and eating the nutritious meat given by our generous donors, makes it all worthwhile.