“The world is watching Palestinians die like in a horror movie – raise your voice to help us”

An Islamic Relief worker* and father reports on the horror facing Palestinian families in besieged Gaza as the world looks on. 

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. 

Attention has been focused on getting a handful of aid trucks into the enclave. We desperately need the food and water onboard, but it all feels futile when bombs are killing so many every day. We are now forced to resort to burying our dead in mass graves.

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. 

Those who have the power to stop this are indifferent and ignorant. 

Israel is still bombing civilian houses every day. Palestinians are ordered to evacuate their homes, then are killed when they do, for no apparent reason.

Some 2.2 million Palestinians are besieged. Unchecked and in contravention of International Humanitarian Law, Israel is blocking us from getting food, water, and fuel – even cutting off our lines of communication with the outside world.

Palestinians in Gaza face a torrent of horror and misery

I can’t even share every piece of news that I hear, as there’s just so much. Whenever I manage to get an internet connection, I receive a stream of notifications… a house destroyed in the south, artillery bombing, someone who passed away, a new military escalation, images of dead women, dead children, infants without parents, bodies shrouded in white cloth. 

Oh Allah, I can’t breathe. Death will bring comfort. There’s no solace for the living in Gaza today.

I am heartbroken about the future awaiting my children in this place. Will they be able to go to school? Will they be able to see their friends? Will they trust there is fairness and justice in the world? How can I tell my children about equal rights and international laws that apply to everyone?

Today, I learned about the targeting of the Jabalia refugee camp in the north of Gaza, in a series of attacks condemned by Islamic Relief as ‘yet another instance of innocent civilians paying the price.’

I have many friends and relatives who live in Jabalia. Hours before the attack all communications were cut in the north. Hours after the attack I’m trying to contact them, but no one can answer my calls.

After hundreds died when the Baptist hospital in Gaza was bombed, I struggle to make sense of this new horror. It is shocking news, and provokes a question in my mind: 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. 

Finally, we hear that my wife’s sister, who lives in Jabalia, is okay. Alhamdulillah. I pray I can say the same about everyone else, as I wait for news.

One of my university friends, who is now a professor in the USA, informs us that his grandfather’s house is in the targeted area, saying, “We do not have any confirmed information. We do not know anything about my grandfather.” Imagine not knowing if your loved ones are alive or not, not knowing whether to mourn them or to pray for their recovery, not being able to pay tribute or to say farewell. 

It’s a package of horror now familiar to many Palestinians. One of my relatives is a medic and tells me there are dead bodies everywhere in the streets. People are stepping over dead bodies. But this is not Hollywood – this is Gaza. A place filled with true Halloween scenes, live for the world to see. 

Palestinian families need your help to stop the violence

The main question everybody is asking here is, “How are you?”. We say we are fine Alhamdulillah, but we are not. We are not okay. 

We are exhausted, we are mourning, we are desperate, we are innocent. 

I am angry and frustrated at the world, the United Nations, the governments, and all who agree to see us killed. 

But still in my heart there remains a strong belief that our true friends are refusing this injustice.  I am sure our friends around the world, including Islamic Relief colleagues and supporters, are knocking on every door to tell people about our suffering.

I am sure you can do this and stop this violence. You can change the world. You can help bring about the ceasefire we so desperately need. I dream of the day all people in the world are equal, and I know this dream can come true only when people around the world raise their voice for Gaza.

*This blog is anonymised to protect the safety and security of our colleague.

Editor’s note: This blog was submitted amid a fast-changing situation on the ground, which has since continued to deteriorate. This information was correct as of the afternoon of Wednesday 1 November.

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Islamic Relief currently delivers programmes that benefit vulnerable people in over 30 countries worldwide. Our work includes life-saving emergency relief and early recovery, as well as development progrmmes that protect communities and improve the lives of some of the poorest families on the planet.

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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.