Sikh organisation Khalsa Aid, along with a team of volunteers reached Bangladesh-Myanmar border on Sunday night to provide aide to lakhs of displaced Rohingya Muslim families fleeing Myanmar.(Indian Express Photo)
Amarpreet Singh, managing director, Khalsa Aid, India, while speaking to media, said, “It was our first day here today and we did a pre-assessment 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 also spoke about the huge camps at Teknaf and how each one was crowded beyond its capacity. “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. Khalsa Aid team is now serving langar and water to the refugees.”
Teknaf is nearly 10 hours away from the capital of Bangladesh, from where all the necessary material needed to prepare langar, is being transported from. Singh also exclaimed that connectivity issues and rain were adding to the interruptions but they have tried their best to provide food to the maximum people at the earliest.
Singh also assured that the langar will continue to be stationed there, until the crisis is not over and refugees continue to reach the border safely. Additional team of Khalsa Aid volunteers are also expected to reach the border town Teknaf in coming days to assist in the relief operations.
Jeevanjyot Singh, another Khalsa Aid volunteer from Jammu & Kashmir who is also in Teknaf described how refugees started walking from Myanmar by foot almost ten days back and then reached Teknaf through boats.
He quoted, “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,” United Nations has rapped Myanmar, led by its state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, for its gross violation of human rights against the tribe of Rohingya Muslims.
As per estimates from the United Nations, approximately 2.70 lakh Rohingya Muslims have already crossed over to Bangladesh and many more are trapped at the border.