Volunteers from Khalsa Aid, a Sikh organisation, are offering food, water, and shelter to lakhs of Rohingya Muslims, who have fled Myanmar fearing persecution, across the Bangladesh border, an Indian Express report has said.
An estimated 370,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 25 after a crackdown by the Myanmar’s army against the community in response to militant attacks.
The Express said the UK-based NGO reached Teknaf, a border town in Bangladesh where the Rohingya Muslims are living in camps in a condition, which Khalsa Aid’s managing director Amarpreet Singh said was “miserable to say the least”.
“We had come prepared for providing relief to some 50,000 people, but there are more than three lakh refugees here. They are living without water, food, clothes and shelter. They are sitting wherever they can find a corner. It is raining, but people do not have anywhere to go,” Singh said.
“We will be providing them langar (community kitchen) food and shelter. We are arranging tarpaulins but since the number of refugees has overwhelmingly exceeded our preparations, it can some time to make arrangements,” he added.
Incessant rains and poor connectivity to the Bangladesh capital Dhaka are proving to be major stumbling blocks in arranging material for preparation of langars.
“But we are committed to run langar here (community food) till the crisis is not over. The priority is to not let anyone sleep without food. Children are roaming without clothes and begging for food. Those who do not get space in camps are sitting along roads in hope of getting food from someone,” he added.
Critics have called for Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of her Nobel peace prize for failing to do more to halt the ethnic violence.
Amid the humanitarian crisis, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has also criticised India for its handling of Rohingya refugees.
Al Hussein deplored steps to deport Rohingya refugees from India, and expressed dismay at what he called the “broader rise of intolerance towards religious and other minorities in India”.
Around 14,000 Rohingyas living in India are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, while about 40,000 are said to be staying illegally.
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