Naser Haghamed, chief executive of Islamic Relief Worldwide, will step down at the end of January 2021 for health reasons.
Haghamed was born in Eritrea but was forced to leave as a refugee. He has been with the organisation for 27 years, having initially joined as an IT manager and taken on a variety of roles before being appointed chief executive in April 2016.
Recently, Haghamed has activated Islamic Relief’s global £20m programme to support vulnerable communities threatened by the Covid-19 pandemic and cemented Islamic Relief’s position as a strategic partner for governments, UN agencies and NGOs.
Haghamed said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the millions of people we support around the world, and it is with great sadness that I am stepping down. I have seen for myself in so many countries that the impact of what we do is hugely positive and we have made great progress, but there is a lot more to do.
“Islamic Relief has been a big part of my life and I will continue to support the organisation’s work and the next chief executive in any way that I can.”
He will continue in the role until 31 January 2021, and the recruitment process for a new chief executive has begun.
Dr Ihab Saad, chair of Islamic Relief Worldwide, said he hopes that Haghamed “will be able to return to Islamic Relief in some capacity in the future once his health improves”.
Saad added: “On behalf of the board of trustees, I would like to thank Naser for his decades of dedicated service and for his successful time as our chief executive.
“Under his tireless and passionate leadership, the number of lives touched by our work across the world has passed the 120 million mark, and last year IRW generated its highest-ever annual income. This means that we are now able to reach more people, in more places, than ever before.
“In 2019 alone we provided vital support to more than 9.5 million people worldwide. This included life-saving aid for over 5 million people in Yemen and Syria, transformative water and education programmes, and innovative projects helping communities cope with the devastating effects of climate change.”
Third senior leader steps down
A senior director at the charity recently become the third senior figure to step down for anti-semitic comments.
A statement from the charity reads: “We continue to work as an organisation to root out anyone that does not meet our core values as a respectful, faith-sensitive, non-discriminatory and principled charity.
“Regrettably one of our directors, has admitted to operating through an undisclosed social media account in which he posted anti-Semitic and other offensive and unacceptable comments in 2014. He has resigned with immediate effect, accepting that he has let IRW down and fallen below our expected standards.
“He has also expressed his deep regret for any offence caused to the Jewish community and for causing harm to our organisation and its reputation.
“Any hate speech, and within that any expression of anti-semitism, is in violation of our code of conduct and against everything that Islamic Relief stands for.”
Islamic Relief Worldwide is in the midst of a governance restructure which aims to increase diversity among its governors in the UK and globally, and improve accountability within the Islamic Relief family. Chair Lamia El Amri and CEO Naser Haghamed spoke to Tania Mason.