Feeding an isolated city

Food is reaching families who have been cut off from the rest of their country by conflict.

The population of Aden, in south Yemen, is completely isolated; bordered by the Gulf of Aden in the south and intense conflict in the north, its 800,000 residents have little option but to stay in their homes and hope for peace.

Islamic Relief has been able to meet some of their immediate needs.

Haney Masood, from Islamic Relief’s headquarters in the UK, said: “We have been able to reach Aden, on the south coast, which is very badly affected. Aden is cut off from the rest of the country by conflict, so people in the city are completely isolated. Currently, nothing can get in or out of the city. We’ve been able to work with local suppliers to make sure we can get food to those who need it most.”

Islamic Relief is also supplying trauma kits to Friendship Hospital, 22 May Hospital and Aden Medical Complex, all in Aden, which are being inundated with people injured by the conflict.

We launched our Yemen crisis appeal nearly two weeks ago, and within three days were able to start distributing aid on the ground in addition to our ongoing work. Now, as the situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate, we have provided food assistance to 48,615 displaced and conflict-affected people.

People are fleeing the country

In some of the calmer moments, Islamic Relief staff have been able to visit communities, identifying families in need of help and giving them a food voucher to exchange for food at a certain time and place. In Aden and the capital city Sana’a, however, Islamic Relief has taken to delivering food door-to-door in order to reduce danger to families who would otherwise have to travel to collect the food they badly need. In many cities, Islamic Relief is using food previously stockpiled. As time passes, however, we will need to find ways to get food into the country.

The number of people displaced by the intensification of conflict in Yemen is estimated at between 120,000 and 150,000 people. Many people have moved to rural areas in the hope they will be safer.

Before the conflict deepened four weeks ago, the country hosted around 245,000 refugees, and some of these are now fleeing by boat. Around 2,000 people have already arrived in Djibouti and Somalia, according to the latest UN figures.

Our work in Yemen continues despite fuel shortages and intermittent power. Islamic Relief has 15 staff members in Sana’a and more than 100 staff in different field sub offices in six governorates, many of whom are coming in for part of the day then returning home when it is quieter, before working from home into the evening.

Haney Masood added: “We have limited staff in the main office, which is in Sana’a, because people are unable to travel from their homes. It is a very tense environment. Everybody is wary.

“We are finding ways to reach people who need help. Before the conflict we were regularly supporting around one million people across Yemen in ten governorates. If they were in need before, they are even more in need now.”

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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 Start Network’s Board of Trustees. The father-of-3 enjoys walking and playing football, and is a keen birdwatcher.