Myanmar refugees from the Rohingya community, a predominantly Muslim sect, take refuge on a street. File Photo
Voice of the Cape Radio:
April 6, 2013
While international aid agencies have struggled to gain access into the unstable Myanmar (Burma), Durban based NGO – the Al Imdaad Foundation – has been on the ground assisting the Rohingya Muslims, left destitute by a surge of violence in the region recently. Rohingya, described by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, have fled Myanmar in their thousands since Buddhist-Muslim tensions exploded in their home state of Rakhine last year.
Nine consecutive days of violence in March has left thousands of Rohingya Muslims displaced and in dire need of the most basic of necessities. Reporting back from a recent trip to the volatile region, Muhammad Saloojee from IAF said it was not easy to get to the Rohingya people. Humanitarian aid was not being allowed to camps without military intervention.
“Burma is very strict on their rules…they only allow two international organisations to operate in the country. The Al Imdaad Foundation has partnered up with one of those organisations, the IHH Humanitarian relief foundation, an NGO based in Turkey, to provide the aid to the victims of the ethnic cleansing,” he said.
“Unfortunately, at the moment the Burmese military is not allowing any organisation to send aid to the country independently. IHH already have permission to operate within the country, by teaming up with them, we are able to directly assist the affected Rohingya Muslims,” Saloojee further explained. Although media reports state the violence has subsided in Burma, Saloojee explained that a recent argument amongst the locals has in fact evoked more violence against the Rohingya Muslims. With a strict hand on media, not many reports on the recent events in Burma are being revealed.
Saloojee said: “We have received word that a madrassa housing 70 children has been torched, with students burning to death in their sleep. Unfortunately only 13 bodies have been retrieved from the remains after the fire. In neighbouring areas, 13 masajid have been set alight along with 800 other buildings, leaving many destitute.”
The IAF along with the IHH is aiming to reconstruct the homes of Muslims which were destroyed by fires related to the violence. According to Saloojee, the four camps currently set up to accommodate those Muslims, who are now homeless as a result of the violence is much like a prison camp. The four camps currently accommodate 7,298; 1,800; 2,000 and 2,000 Rohingya Muslims respectively. Nobody is allowed access to the camps. “The areas where the homes are being constructed are in a fairly peaceful area in Burma. The violent areas have been cordoned off and there is no access to those areas.”
Saloojee added that South African can visit the Al Imdaad Foundation’s website to see how far the project has been progressing, allowing the international community up to date reports on the current situation regarding humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya . Saloojee urged the international Muslim ummah tojoin in a collective duah for their Muslim brother and sisters. For more information, visit www.alimdaad.com.