(Washington, D.C. 8/17/11) American Muslims are donating in record numbers to the current crisis in East Africa, in spite of an overall decline in charitable giving among US donors over the last several years*. Islamic Relief USA has received record online donations this Ramadan, the ninth month of Muslim calendar when Muslims fast and give to charitable causes, with most donors giving overwhelmingly to the East Africa Crisis appeal.

The current drought crisis in the Horn of Africa has prompted American Muslims to donate in record amounts. In less than two weeks, Alexandria, Va.-based Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has seen online donations to its East Africa campaign surpass online donations to all of the organization’s previous humanitarian appeals this year, including those for crises in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Japan.

Offline, community leaders and imams are galvanizing their local communities to host fundraising events for East Africa. At one fundraiser in Anaheim, Calif., donations to IRUSA’s East Africa Crisis Appeal garnered $600,000 in one night, with hip hop star Lupe Fiasco donating $50,000 for the cause.

“Muslim American donors have time and time again responded to humanitarian appeals of this nature in droves,” said CEO of IRUSA. “We have witnessed this with Pakistan’s floods of 2010, Haiti’s earthquake in 2010 and the disasters following the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. Now we are receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from the community eager to help alleviate the famine in East Africa.”

More than 13 million people across East Africa are facing the worst drought in 60 years, and the United Nations has formally declared a state of famine in five regions in southern and central Somalia. After years of insufficient rainfall, crops have failed, livestock have died and food prices are too high for most people.  The UN has called on the international community to provide $1.3 billion in funds for the crisis.

Islamic Relief USA has launched a campaign to provide relief in the region, and the Islamic Relief family also is collectively responding through the Islamic Relief offices in East Africa, which have been delivering assistance since 1993. So far, the East Africa offices have distributed food to more than 30,000 people, provided access to water to more than 210,000 people, and health and nutrition services to more than 30,000 people, mostly children.

Islamic Relief USA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3)humanitarian organization with eight consecutive 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator. Its mission is to alleviate suffering, hunger, illiteracy and disease regardless of color, race, gender or creed, and to provide aid in a compassionate and dignified manner. Islamic Relief USA aims to provide rapid relief in the event of human and natural disasters and to establish sustainable local development projects, allowing communities to better help themselves.

*Giving USA Foundation and Center on Philanthropy have reported that 2008 and 2009 “saw the largest drop in giving in more than 40 years as a result of the Great Recession”, while total charitable contributions from American individuals, corporations, and foundations grew by a mere 2.1 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars in 2010.


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