Amid the Rohingya refugee crisis that has divided global opinion, a team of Sikh volunteers under Khalsa Aid banner has reached out on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border area to provide relief to lakhs of Rohingya families fleeing Myanmar to escape genocide. Confirming their arrival at the border town of Teknaf in Bangladesh,Amarpreet Singh, managing director Khalsa Aid, described the situation as “miserable to say the least”.
Sikh volunteers helping Rohingya kids with water at Teknaf. The Indian Express
Speaking over the phone Amarpreet Singh said:
It was our first day here today and we did a preassessment before launching a major relief operation. 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. It is miserable to say the least. We will be providing them langar food (community kitchen) and shelter. We are arranging tarpaulins but since the number of refugees have overwhelmingly exceeded our preparations, it can some time to make arrangements.
He added that instead of their being numerous large refugee camps, all of them were literally flooded owing to the huge number of refugees fleeing Myanmar:
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A camp can accommodate at least 50,000 people but in most of them there are more than one lakh refugees. But we are committed to run langar here (community here) 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.
The Khalsa Aid team has already started doing their work by distributing water and free food to the refugees. Talking about the crisis Singh said:
Teknaf is almost 10 hours ride from the capital Dhaka from where we are ferrying all the material needed to prepare langar. Connectivity issues and rain are creating hindrances but we are trying our best to provide food to the maximum people at the earliest. The langar will continue here till crisis is not over and refugees continue to reach the border.
Another team of Khalsa Aid volunteers are expected to reach Teknaf with more relief materials. The Indian Express
Another volunteer of Khalsa Aid, who belongs to Jammu & Kashmir, described the deplorable conditions of the Rohingya Muslims by saying how they started from Myanmar on foot about 10 days back and reached Teknaf through boats:
They are in an extremely bad state as of now. They have nowhere to go. We have spoken to some families and they have told us that after crossing thick jungles on foot in Myanmar, they crossed border through boats and then resumed journey on foot. Most of them have traveled for more than ten days. Since then, children had no food or water. They are in dire need of food and water.