Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Relief Worldwide

Naser Haghamed


Assalamu alaykum Peace be with you

The international community continues to fail the people of Yemen and Syria miserably. History will not forget nor forgive us as we have all the financial power, technology and resources to bring these brutal conflicts to an end, but have collectively failed to do so.

And so it is with a heavy heart that we at Islamic Relief report on another year of responding to these devastating and protracted humanitarian crises, and many more that fail even to make it to the news.
When I was in the Yemeni port city of Hodeida in June, I heard the bombing and witnessed the suffering of the people – people like you and me. Grown men being carried into food distribution centres because they were too frail to stand, delirious from thirst and hunger. Women, in their hundreds, bringing malnourished children into feeding centres, not sure if they would have the strength to make it through the day.
I was humbled to see our staff working 18 hours a day, seven days a week, so that at least some of these people would be given a fighting chance to survive.
I saw our largest ever relief operation in action, feeding over two million people every month. Seven hundred distribution points, with over 300 staff and 2,800 volunteers.
I saw our teams negotiate access to areas cut off from the rest of the world. I observed what it means to be the largest humanitarian aid agency in a country crippled by war. I saw what it means to witness death and yet to save so many lives.
In January 2019 an Islamic Relief aid worker in Yemen was killed by a stray bullet while trying to deliver aid. Hamdi Abo Abdullah Al-ahmadi had stopped at a garage to change a tyre, less than a kilometre from our office. That simple everyday task claimed his life.
This is a glimpse of what it means to be an aid worker in 2019. We start an emergency response programme with no idea how many years will pass before the situation improves; before we can move from delivering lifesaving aid to rebuilding communities, or when, having recovered from one disaster, another will strike.
Another of the great challenges the world faces today is the threat to the environment. In so many of the countries we work in we are responding to the deep human impact of the climate emergency, where the poorest communities are worst affected and least able to cope. Like bringing an end to war, this is a crisis we can do something about only if we have the collective will, and a good heart that aches to see a better world.
As Islamic Relief Worldwide reports back on the marking of its 35th anniversary, I am indebted to the good-hearted people who feel the suffering of others, who donate to us, work with us, support us and care enough to make a positive difference.
As the year drew to a close, we all witnessed how China was trying to get to grips with the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. That outbreak has since exploded into a global pandemic that is having a profound impact on all of us, including Islamic Relief and the vulnerable populations we serve in 2020 and beyond.
The problems of the world may seem insurmountable, the big decisions out of our hands, but our hopes, prayers and actions will not cease. We will do whatever good we can, for as long as it takes, to see a better, safer world insha’Allah.

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