Chronicling a crisis: Follow an aid worker’s powerful accounts from inside Gaza

After an unprecedented escalation began in early October, an Islamic Relief aid worker* in Gaza began writing about his experiences under siege.

We’ve shared his accounts of struggling to find food and water, the intense planning required for even basic tasks like taking a shower, and the feelings of fear and hopelessness that his now displaced family grapples with every day.

His blogs, which we’ve published over the last month, paint an undeniably grim picture of the dire situation the people of Gaza are facing, but also reveal a tremendous resilience and small moments of joy amid utter chaos. For us, the arrival of each new blog is a relief – a sign our colleague is still alive.

Here, we share extracts from his blogs. We’ll continue to update this article as we receive more:

Monday 9 October, This time, I feel we might not survive…
The situation is extremely terrifying. As I write these words, my house is shaking back and forth due to the intense bombing. My kids started crying and screaming in fear of the bombs. Even as an adult who has lived through tens of escalations, I feel terrified. I feel this time we might not be able to survive. I can’t imagine the destruction we will see if we survive.

For humanitarian workers like us, the main challenge is keeping safe when there is no safe place. Moving from place to place is very dangerous. I am sometimes afraid to even look outside. Humanitarian workers trying to travel to other parts of Gaza to help those in need know it could be a one-way trip.

I am thinking of leaving my house to go to my parents, even though I am convinced that no place is safe. I just want to see my mother and be with her.

Wednesday 11 October, Poisonous water and patchy internet…
At home, my family and I can’t find drinking water. I’m telling my kids over and over to be careful using what water we still have. We used to have a home filtration unit, but it’s blocked with salt and other minerals. We’ve gone back to using it even though we know the water is dangerous. What choice do we have?

We barely have internet in my house either. I use brief moments of connection to try and piece together what is happening elsewhere in Gaza. Once, when we managed to get online, we saw shocking images from Al Remal, downtown Gaza’s commercial district. The streets were upside down. Buildings reduced to rubble and ash, trees ripped from their roots and even pets lying dead in the streets. I can’t understand what I’m seeing.

The bombardment and destruction we’re experiencing means a huge humanitarian crisis is sure to be on the horizon.

Friday 13 October, Fleeing home…
At midnight one night, my phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognise, and when I answered, a recorded message ordered all residents of Gaza City and northern Gaza to evacuate to the southern half of the strip. That is about a million Palestinians, forced to flee their homes.

I prepared quickly in the morning and started moving south. There were hundreds of people walking and carrying their belongings. No one knew where to go or what to do, never mind what the hours ahead might bring. Dozens of cars moved like a caravan, all crowded with passengers and their belongings.

As I drove, I saw damaged and demolished buildings, rubble all over the roads, and huge craters about 4 metres deep from the bombs. I was terrified more would fall while I was driving. The scenes from the road were like a horror film or a landscape from a dystopian novel where the world had ended and only destruction remained.

I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel right now, in fact, it’s looking very dark… I am not sure this is the end of our journey. I am afraid we are going to be displaced again.

Families leave for southern Gaza following an Israeli evacuation order

Tuesday 17 October, My mother’s ingenuity…
I’m writing this on the second day after evacuating our home. The situation here is no different, bombing is still going on all the time and those of us who’ve evacuated are still not safe.

My mum is taking extra measures with food and water. I’m sorry to tell you that we are flushing the toilet only 2 times a day, in the morning and at night, and we’re eating less food to avoid going to the toilet as regularly. We wash for prayers only once or twice and mum has decided that only the adults can use water for this, she tells the kids: “Allah will accept your prayers, my beloved children, because you are innocent and pure.”

My mother has a pack of plastic bowls to serve meals in to avoid using more water for dishwashing. She is always thinking of meals that would use less water and fewer dishes. Without electricity, things in the deep freezer have started to melt.

The ability to switch the lights on is a luxury in Gaza now. Being able to go to the toilet and properly wash yourself is a privilege. Even the idea of showering has started to seem fanciful, let alone being able to have a roof over one’s head and get a good night’s sleep, without bombing.

This can’t continue anymore, my dear readers. I had been thinking that us humanitarian workers will have a huge amount of work to do and people to support when this escalation is over, but now, I think we might not have the chance. We might not live to do so.

Friday 20 October, Every night, I dream our house will be next in the firing line…
I am afraid. My days are filled with a relentless stream of news telling me civilians houses have been hit and dozens have died. At night, I wake up, my heart pounding, afraid that the next airstrike will hit us. I have started telling myself not to worry. Death does not hurt. I will just be asleep. Yet still, every night, I dream our house will be next in the firing line. I am afraid to be trapped under the rubble. I am afraid if I die, they won’t recognise me, but I am wearing my wedding ring, which is engraved with my name and my wife’s name, so at least they can guess who I am.

It is shocking to me that today, in the 21st century, the people of Gaza are living – not living, just trying to survive, really – like this. People are being killed for just being here, trapped, with no way to escape, no way to get our children to safety. Families are torn apart.

Every free person in the world would refuse to live like this. It grieves my heart that the international community appears so indifferent to our suffering, that the world is accepting the indescribable horror faced by Palestinians in Gaza.

Monday 23 October, My neighbours are dead…
After midnight, a huge blast shook the flat where we’re staying, sending pictures flying off the walls. I went outside to find that our neighbours’ house had been hit by an airstrike. There was a crater about 6 meters deep. Dozens of people had been in that house, including women and children.

Ambulances and firefighters rushed to our street. The neighbours kept telling them that there were people under the rubble, but the firefighters struggled as the house is in a narrow alley that cars can’t fit through. The medics managed to rescue some injured people. But in Gaza today, medics have to make agonising choices about who to treat – it is just not possible to help everyone who needs it.

I used to hear sounds of children playing at the neighbours’ house. There were lots of them there. Now, it will be silent. All night long, I kept hearing people trying to pull bodies from the rubble. Only this morning, a woman’s body was recovered. This family’s story was cut short last night. Its members were added to the rising death toll. More sorrow and more pain, more bloodshed. And this will not be the end of it.

Wednesday 25 October, Death is closing in on families in Gaza…
We are exhausted as the weight of each day grows still heavier on our shoulders. Life is becoming unbearable. The pain and suffering are increasing by the moment and our people are desperate. I too am desperate, and starting to lose hope that there will be an end to this violence. Everyone in Gaza is just awaiting death.

We have done nothing to deserve such brutality. We are just civilians – ordinary families – who want to live in peace. We do not care about politics, nor are we part of it. I know my people have lived under occupation for years and that they deserve to live freely, but right now everyone just wants this violence to stop.

I know I need to be stronger and more resilient, but we are all tired here. We are all praying that the killing will stop. There must be brave people somewhere who are willing to talk and reach an agreement, but it feels like there is no one in the world who cares about civilian lives.

I am consistent in sending you these words because I think I need to leave a story behind. Palestinians are not just numbers in a death toll. Each one has their own feelings, their own favourite dish, their own football team they like, their own hobbies and their own memories. I have mine too.

I want to be remembered. I want to attend a Manchester United game, despite their poor performance on the football pitch. I want to go to my office. I want to see my children grow. I want to drink clean water and charge my phone. I want to live a simple, stupid life. Give me a chance to live it. Who is giving these chances and who is taking them away? I actually do not know…

People walk among the rubble from destroyed buildings in Gaza

Monday 30 October, Death is now the norm in Gaza…
On Friday 27 October, my phone connection was suspended all of a sudden. At first, we thought there was a problem with the internet. We restarted the router many times, but when I saw that we couldn’t make calls either, I realised something was wrong. I thought a bomb must be heading for our area. My legs froze and my heart sank to my knees.

My brother said he’d heard there was a land invasion taking place. Remembering an old radio my father used to have, we rushed to get it and eventually found a channel confirming that the invasion had officially started.

I could hear plane after plane roaring across the sky, passing over our heads and bombing Gaza. I could hear the sounds of far-off explosions and what sounded like hundreds of drones buzzing all around.
That night, every kind of thought imaginable entered my head. I thought we might start being bombed randomly; I thought our end had come. I was thinking that we would not be able to call an ambulance because our phones weren’t working. I thought we might die, and no one would even know. I was thinking of my friends abroad, my sisters, and my friends at Islamic Relief who are checking on us all the time. This is the end, I thought.

Wednesday 1 November, The world is watching us Palestinians die…
I am more frustrated than ever. In Gaza we have been living in hell for 24 days, but still there has been no significant action from the international community to stop this massacre of Palestinian families.

Has the world forgotten that the people of Gaza are human beings like any other? It seems no one cares if we live or die. My readers, I am sorry for my anger, but I cannot see an end to this cycle of violence, and I know no one in Gaza with the power to stop this madness.

How many more massacres are required before the world will say that is enough and stop this violence? I think the world is getting used to seeing us being killed live on TV.

Thursday 2 November, Adapting our diet…
My family’s diet has changed since we came to stay with my mum, who has proven herself brilliant at preparing meals with very little. The kids’ favourite breakfast is now tea and biscuits, which are crumbly and baked in the oven. They are the perfect shape to dip into hot tea, and the sugary treat provides a welcome energy boost for the long, gruelling day ahead.

Figuring out lunch is another challenge. First, we need the resources available. Then we need to consider meals which use as little water as possible, since water is now increasingly hard to find. For the same reason, we minimise the number of dishes that need to be washed. And, with many bakeries closed, we try to make meals without bread. In these difficult times, it is hard to find protein so most of our cooking is without meat.

We don’t make an evening meal anymore, making do with just 2 meals a day. The kids will sometimes have snacks such as cucumber and tomatoes with cheese. Limited as our diet is, my family is lucky to have this food.

Monday 6 November, Will my son get to celebrate his birthday..?
Like most children, my 6-year-old son has been eagerly awaiting his birthday, which is next week. When the crisis began 1 month ago, and his school closed, his first question was, “Will we still celebrate my birthday?” I told him, “Of course we will. This will end soon, dear.” Back then, I never expected we would be forced to flee our home and would be struggling to get food, water, and electricity. I keep praying that this nightmare will end before his birthday.

Islamic Relief provides water to support Gaza’s communities during the escalation

If it ends, we might be able to return home – he’s been missing his bedroom, particularly – but even still, his birthday won’t be the same as before. We always took him to his favourite restaurant. It served kebabs and grilled meat, an unusual favourite for a child, but he loved the place all the same. His pizza and pasta-loving sister complained that he always chooses the same place. My son was very upset to learn the restaurant was damaged in an attack, so there’ll be no more special times there

Thursday 11 November, Life has become unliveable…
It is day 33 or 34 of this crisis, I don’t know… I’ve lost count.

There is no sign of hope that we will see an end to this unjust and brutal killing. Our situation gets worse and worse as the clock ticks by. Markets are running out of every product; food is scarce, water is rare. You’re lucky if you can find any electricity. Nothing is easy.

Life has become unliveable in our small enclave. I have 3 sisters, 2 of whom are staying in the same house as me right now. Yesterday, I went out to see my other sister, who is living elsewhere in the city. I went to see her just in case we would not have the chance to meet again. People in Gaza have started taking risks like this. It’s dangerous to venture outside, but it might be our last opportunity to see our loved ones.

Our lives could be cut short at any moment. So many of us are being killed. My story could end, but you can carry it on. You can keep speaking about us Palestinians, about our hopes, our aspirations, our land, our food, our sea, our resilience. I pray that I will write to you to tell you that I have lived and have returned to my home. I pray that I can meet you in Gaza, introduce you to our people and that you can see the miracles they’ve achieved, you can try our food and you can see how we’ve survived.

Monday 13 November, I feel I’m failing as a father…
There are so many things I can’t do for my family now. I feel I’m failing as a father because I can’t protect them.

I have always provided good standard of living for my family. I have always tried my best to attend my son’s school events and the ceremonies they used to do in the kindergarten years. I wish I could protect him from this.

Now, I can’t provide my kids with the food they are used to. It is getting cold, but they only have summer clothes because when we fled our home, we couldn’t take everything we owned. In the area where we are staying now, there are no new clothes: there’s nothing left in the shops, and people are struggling for anything they can find.

Sunday 19 November, My son turns 6 in a Gaza under siege…

Today is my son’s birthday. He has just completed 6 years of life. I went to get some toys and gifts for him and the other kids in the house, heading to an ATM as all the shops here have stopped accepting electronic payments. But Gaza is under a total blackout right now, so ATMs are not working. I tried to find a gift shop, but everything was closed… it is going to be hard to celebrate this birthday in our complicated situation, I thought.

My wife managed to get some ingredients to bake a cake, ensuring there’ll be something of a celebration no matter what. She and my sister were busy preparing the cake when my daughter decided that it should be a surprise. She made everyone in the house agree to keep the cake a secret from my son until the preparations were ready, so, when he asked us, we all pretended we would not be able to celebrate his birthday this year.

I can confirm that at least 1 of the kids leaked some information to my son but, as he is an innocent child, he believed what his father was telling him and felt sad that he was missing out on his birthday this year.

Later, the other kids invited my son into a room and started singing Happy Birthday. He was so surprised and his smile was huge. I felt that this must be one of his happiest moments in a long time. The children laughed and sang and made a huge racket in the house. They took photos with the other kids and our cat, who is now part of all our special moments.

Unfortunately, I could not find any candles to put on the cake, so we asked my son just to make a wish as he cut it. I asked him what his wish was. “To stop the war,” he answered matter-of-factly.

Sunday 19 November, Reuniting with my old neighbour reminded me how much I miss my old life…

I received a call from Ahmed*, the building attendant at our home in Gaza City. I’d lost contact with him after the first few weeks of this escalation. On the phone, he told me he’s now in the same city as I am, so I gave him directions to come and see me.

Days later, I overheard someone out in the street asking passersby about me. When I went outside, I met Ahmed with tears in my eyes. Seeing him reminded me that I still have a house, a job, friends, neighbours, and a whole life in Gaza City, which I may never make it back to.

It reminded me of our life before we had to leave our houses. I miss that life. Just the normal, stupid, simple life we used to live. I’d give everything I have to go back to that time.

We loved our streets, the trees that dropped leaves on my car, our trips to the sea with the kids, my wife getting angry because their clothes were full of sand afterwards, heated debates over what pizza we are going to have for dinner, our repeated requests for the kids to clear their plates, having to wake up early for work, field visits and paperwork at the office, parents meetings at the kids’ school, enjoying 8 hours’ worth of electricity, the humid weather all year long, weekend nights with the guys, Fridays lunches. I miss all of it.

Destruction in Gaza, photographed on November 30

Thursday 23 November, In Gaza we pray for a permanent ceasefire, right now…

We are now in the 48th day of the Israeli war on Gaza, and the situation is getting worse every day. We are all so exhausted it defies description. Everyone has tasted loss.

In the last couple of days, news of a ceasefire has become more frequent. Our hopes for an end to this nightmare are now sky-high but at the moment it is only a temporary humanitarian pause. This is not the end of this war.

Tonight alone, there have been about 10 airstrikes in the area where my family and I are staying. There is still artillery shelling from land and sea. I cannot go home, I’ve no way to know if my house has been destroyed.

We pray this pause will be extended, and will lead to a lasting ceasefire. We pray to return to our homes, and to rebuild our shattered lives. I ask you to pray for us, and to join us in calling for a ceasefire now.

Wednesday 29 October, Overwhelming reunions during humanitarian pause…

This period without airstrikes and bombing has given everyone in Gaza a chance to breathe. But the relief is short lived and when we’ll next have the chance to rest, only God knows. A humanitarian pause for a few days is meaningless compared to the dire situation facing displaced people and the huge destruction to infrastructure and services in Gaza that this crisis has caused.

On the second day of the pause, my wife wanted to see her parents who are staying with a relative in Rafah, about 30km away. I checked my car and found that I had enough fuel left, so I reckoned we had to make the trip. My wife missed her family a great deal.  

We arrived at my wife parents’ place. As I climbed the stairs behind her and our kids, I could hear loud crying from upstairs. Everyone was overwhelmed by emotion over this reunion. It has been a long time since we last met. They told us stories full of terror about their not-so-safe passage south. We spent Saturday telling each other how we’ve passed our days, how we’re managing to refill water, comparing the prices of food. We tell our stories and listen to theirs. It was overwhelming seeing them again.

1 December, My home has been destroyed, but we will rebuild Gaza…

Yesterday was the final day of the humanitarian pause. It was also the day I learned that my own home has been damaged.

I can’t confirm what the flat is like inside yet, but I can tell from pictures of the outside of the building that it was hit by a shell. There is definitely damage to the children’s room and the bathroom, as well as part of the storage room. I can’t travel north to check the building or see if our belongings are okay. It is too dangerous now and we do not have enough fuel for the journey.

I do not know how I’ll begin to fix everything. I have started planning, but there are so many obstacles in my way. I do not know if Israel will allow construction material into Gaza again. I do not know if I will be able to find aluminium windows at the market. Maybe I’ll be able to find the material, but the cost will be so high that I can’t afford it. Maybe all the construction workers will be busy repairing other places. The whole city is destroyed…

Monday 4 December, Since the truce ended, I fear the grave is the only safe place in Gaza…

Just 10 minutes after the humanitarian pause ended, the heavy airstrikes and bombing started again, the terrifying sounds dragging me and my family from sleep.

I knew the tanks would be heading our way. Everyone in the house was frightened. My brother gathered the kids and said, “The situation is very dangerous now. I want you all to gather all your courage and stay calm. Please listen to the instructions the adults give you.”

We lived a hell of a night. The sounds of bombing and shelling never stopped. I could also hear heavy gunfire, maybe from a tank or helicopter. But we survived, Alhamdulillah.

We have rearranged our emergency bag because we might have to flee again, on foot this time. We might have to stay in tents. We might lose everything. We might be dead…

Wednesday 6 December, My family has nowehere else to flee – should we stay and face Israel’s tanks?

Since I last wrote to you, my family and I have spent a terrifying couple of nights. We could hear gunshots and airstrikes all around. I told you about a friend who was staying with her family in an area near us. She had to evacuate as tanks arrived just behind their home. I also saw other people from that area walking with their belongings towards the middle of the city.

I was very worried about our safety, as my family lives on the edge of the city too. My nerves couldn’t stand the stress. I just lay down in silence. I couldn’t think what would be the best thing to do. Should we leave, or stay? Each option seemed just as challenging as the other.

At my parents’ home, we’ve managed to get solar panels to generate electricity. We can watch the news and connect to the internet when it’s available. We’ve managed to find a system for refilling our water tanks once or twice a week, though it’s costly and not very good. Things are – at the most basic level – working for us. We are among the lucky ones who have been able to adapt – most people don’t even have this. Leaving means taking a step into the unknown. On the other hand, staying would mean putting my family in danger from shelling.

Sunday 10 December, As terrified children fled the warplane, my desperate cat outran them all…

Nobody in the world cares about Palestinian children, my children, being deprived food and water, being deprived of play. Yes, hard as it might be to imagine, my dear readers, our children cannot play. Even before this latest nightmare, Gaza had little to offer children in terms of playgrounds – but the kids played happily in the streets. Now, they’ve lost even this, as I saw with my own eyes yesterday when my kids and the neighbours’ kids – about 30 or 40 children – gathered in our street.

The girls draw a hopscotch game and the boys brought an old football. The street sprang to life with the wonderful hubbub of children at play. Suddenly, an airplane screamed in the sky. Every child ran for their life, scrambling to get indoors. As I made sure everyone got inside, I noticed our cat running the fastest, and jumping up and across the children’s shoulders to save his life.

Islamic Relief is on the ground in Gaza, serving as a lifeline to families suffering in this crisis. Please help us to continue this vital work: Give generously to our Palestine Emergency Appeal now.

*These extracts are anonymised to protect the safety and security of our colleague.

Editor’s note: These extracts have been edited for clarity and length

new director

Director of Network and Resource Development

Adnan joined Islamic Relief in 2004 as a regional fundraiser in the UK. He worked in multiple roles over 10 years at Islamic Relief UK, including setting up the first digital team and leading the growth of digital fundraising and engagement. Adnan also led numerous fundraising and marketing campaigns, which played a significant part in the growth of Islamic Relief UK.

Having moved to Islamic Relief Worldwide in 2014, Adnan has held different roles that have helped grow Islamic Relief’s global digital footprint into new geographic territories, supporting Islamic Relief members with their digital and marketing growth as well as developing new products and initiatives for the Islamic Relief family.

Adnan graduated in Industrial Design and Technology from Loughborough University. He has since completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration from Durham University and a Diploma in Digital Marketing from the Institute of Data and Marketing.

Nadeem Azhar

General Counsel

Nadeem joined Islamic Relief Worldwide in September 2022. He has worked in the charitable sector for over a decade.

He studied Modern History and Politics at Manchester University, and at the University of Law in London before qualifying as a solicitor in 2011.

Nadeem is an experienced corporate, commercial and governance lawyer, having worked with various faith-based and grant making charities as well those in health and education settings. He was a partner at a law firm in London before moving in-house where he focused on setting up and restructuring charities and social enterprises.

Most recently, Nadeem was Lead Counsel at Mind, a leading mental health charity, where he co-authored a new federation agreement, revamped legal processes, and played a major role in developing its strategic and fundraising partnerships.

Nadeem has been a charity trustee for the Seafarers Charity, as well as many grant-making bodies and theatre companies.

Adnan Hafiz

Director of Network and Resource Development

Adnan joined Islamic Relief in 2004 as a regional fundraiser in the UK. He worked in multiple roles over 10 years at Islamic Relief UK, including setting up the first digital team and leading the growth of digital fundraising and engagement. Adnan also led numerous fundraising and marketing campaigns, which played a significant part in the growth of Islamic Relief UK.

Having moved to Islamic Relief Worldwide in 2014, Adnan has held different roles that have helped grow Islamic Relief’s global digital footprint into new geographic territories, supporting Islamic Relief members with their digital and marketing growth as well as developing new products and initiatives for the Islamic Relief family.

Adnan graduated in Industrial Design and Technology from Loughborough University. He has since completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration from Durham University and a Diploma in Digital Marketing from the Institute of Data and Marketing.

Board of Directors
Javed Akhtar

Director of Finance

Javed Akhtar has more than a decade of experience at Islamic Relief, having worked in a similar role between 2003-2014. In that role he strove to implement wide-ranging financial and accounting processes which aided in the transparent nature in which Islamic Relief now operates.

Javed also has diverse experience across the private sector, having worked at American chemicals and pharmaceutical giant DuPont, shipping firm FedEX and technology consultancy company Accenture. In all his roles, he prioritises using the latest technologies to improve monitoring and reporting at every level. Javed’s commitment to embracing digital end-to-end technology, enhancing accountability to our stakeholders and promoting financial transparency is ensuring that we remain at the forefront of financial developments in the sector.

By training, Javed is a chartered accountant with a Master’s degree in NGO Management with Charity Accounting and Financial Management from Cass Business School.
Board of Directors
Affan Cheema  

Director of International Programmes

Affan Cheema is an experienced leader who has spent 25 years working in the international aid sector on poverty eradication in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He has worked in fast onset emergencies, protracted crisis and development environments whilst working for Islamic Relief Worldwide and Care International. He is also a trustee of South West International Development Network (SWIDN).

Through his career Affan has held numerous roles including institutional fundraising, programme and grant management, and programme quality assurance.  Affan’s leadership has helped Islamic Relief Worldwide secure the highly coveted Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS), seen as the sector’s premier benchmark for operational excellence.

Affan completed his BA in Economics and Geography from University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) and his MSc in Development Administration and Planning from the University of Bristol. He is PRINCE2 qualified, is a keen sportsman and recently co-edited a book entitled -Islam and International Development: Insights for working with Muslim Communities-.
Board of Directors
Dr Hossam Said

Managing Director, Humanitarian Academy for Development (HAD)

For nearly three decades Dr Hossam has provided the strategic vision to manage, lead and develop a range of international humanitarian interventions around the world.

At the start of his career, Dr Hossam served on the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, before moving to Islamic Relief Worldwide to manage the core global business activities as International Programmes Director.

During this time the organisation increased its global reach, gaining both domestic and international repute and credibility. Dr Hossam has also served on the Islamic Relief Worldwide Board of Management and Executive Committee for the past 15 years; sharing responsibility for strategic organisational development and the change management process, whilst forging strong relationships with many other charities.

Dr Hossam gained an MBA from Aston Business School in 2004 and graduated as a Medical Doctor from Cairo University in 1981.
Board of Directors
Martin Cottingham  

Director of External Relations and Advocacy

Martin Cottingham joined Islamic Relief in 2012 as IRUK Media Relations Manager, and was appointed Head of Communications in 2015 before taking up his current position as Director of External Relations and Advocacy for Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Martin has helped Islamic Relief to increase its mainstream media profile and expand its campaigning work, producing hard-hitting advocacy reports on floods in Pakistan (2011) famine in Somalia (2012) disaster risk reduction (2013) and aid to Afghanistan (2014). He has over 20 years’ experience working in media, communications and marketing roles for international development and environmental charities.

Martin graduated from the University of London with a degree in English and Drama (1982-85) then trained as a journalist with a postgraduate diploma at City University (1986-87). He has previously worked for Christian Aid as Editor of Christian Aid News and Media Relations Manager (1988-97) for Oxfam as Regional Campaigns Manager (1997-2000) and at the Soil Association as Marketing Director (2001-2006), as well as working for a wide range of organisations as a freelance writer, researcher and communications consultant.

Tufail Hussain

Director of Islamic Relief UK

Tufail Hussain has 17 years’ experience in the humanitarian and development sector, leading on marketing and fundraising campaigns for several organisations before joining Islamic Relief UK in 2016 as Deputy Director. Tufail was appointed Director of Islamic Relief UK in 2019 and in 2021 provided valuable leadership as interim CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Tufail is driven by a passion for empowering disadvantaged youth and mentors a number of young people. He also works to strengthen engagement between British Muslims and wider society. Under his leadership, Islamic Relief UK has significantly increased its income and developed successful partnerships with communities across the country. He has travelled around the world to raise awareness of major emergencies such as the Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan crises and the floods in Pakistan and Sudan.

A father to 5 daughters and a son, Tufail is also a sports enthusiast and passionate Liverpool FC supporter. Tufail has run the London Marathon twice, raising over £35,000 for humanitarian causes.

Before joining Islamic Relief he was CEO of Orphans in Need, where he oversaw a new strategy that increased income from £2 million to £9 million in 3 years and opened up new UK and international offices. Tufail is also a trustee of the Muslim Charities Forum and a Director of TIC International (Islamic Relief Worldwide’s clothes recycling and trading arm).
Board of Directors
Waseem Ahmad

Chief Executive Officer

Waseem Ahmad joined the Islamic Relief family over 20 years ago, serving as Programme Officer in the Balochistan province of south-western Pakistan before becoming Head of Programmes in Pakistan. Waseem then moved to Oxfam and Tearfund before returning to Islamic Relief to establish our mission in Malawi. Later serving as Head of Programme Funding and Partnerships, Waseem led the response to major crises across the globe, including the East Africa drought, Pakistan earthquake and the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Waseem then served for nearly 6 years as our Director of International Programmes, during which time the charity secured and retained the coveted Core Humanitarian Standard certification in recognition of the quality of our programming. He was appointed CEO of Islamic Relief in May 2021.

With a special interest in community mobilisation and infrastructure, Waseem received an MSc in Project Planning and Management from the University of Bradford, as well as an MSc in Economics from Arid Agriculture University in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Waseem has also worked for Lepra Health in Action and is a member of the International Civil Society Centre’s Board of Trustees. The father-of-3 enjoys walking and playing football, and is a keen birdwatcher.