“So give their dues to the near relative, the needy and the wayfarer – that is best for those whose goal is God’s approval: these are the ones who will prosper.” (30:38)
The plight of nearly one million of our Rohingya brothers and sisters highlights that the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis is one of the world’s fastest growing refugee crises – and we have a duty to help.
The Rohingya have been persecuted in Myanmar for decades but issues escalated again in 2017 when military action against the Rohingya intensified. Amnesty International reports that during this time security forces in Myanmar went on to carry out targeted campaigns of widespread and systematic murder, rape and burning in a bid to get rid of the Rohingya or force them to flee the country. Further reports show hundreds of men, women and children being shot down and entire villages razed to the ground.
The Rohingya are an ethnic minority group from the Rakhine state in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) who have suffered at the hands of Myanmar for decades for the sole reason that they are Muslims. Suspicious of their customs, language and culture, the Burmese – who are predominantly Buddhist – have always harboured hatred and distrust of the Rohingya people. This has resulted in years of persecution, limited access to basic facilities and education and refusal of Myanmar citizenship, effectively leaving the Rohingya people stateless. As a response to the recent atrocities inflicted on them, the UN has clearly declared the military offensive against these people as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and world leaders have even called it “genocide”. Yet the urgency of the situation seems to be lost on most of the world. However, Crisis Aid is on the ground providing urgent help right now during this Rohingya refugee crisis. From providing food parcels to shelters and hygiene packs, Crisis Aid is trying to meet the immediate needs of these devastated people.
Over 600 thousand Rohingyas were forced to flee their homes in Myanmar, bringing the number of refugees seeking shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh up to an eyewatering one million. While thousands were killed in brutal attacks by the Myanmar military, many more have died making the perilous journey from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Hundreds have drowned, some have been attacked during the journey while others have stepped on landmines in dense forests bordering the countries.
One of the biggest refugee camps housing Rohingya families in Bangladesh is in the coastal city of Cox’s Bazar – and the conditions are dire. Being a very poor country itself, Bangladesh has struggled to help the huge influx of refugees although residents had initially been welcoming. But as time has passed and the number of refugees increased, the initial goodwill began to wane. Bangladeshis who struggle to provide for their own families cannot cope with the increasing needs of the refugees and this has soured relations between the two groups.
Volunteers from our UK Crisis Aid team were immediately there to provide emergency aid. Our team is well acquainted with refugee camps across the world, but they reported that conditions at the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp were particularly bad. They have reported that shelters consist mainly of tarpaulin, plastic sheets and bamboo strung together while raw sewage runs through the camps making the environment unhygienic. A lack of clean water leaves the already vulnerable residents at risk of killer diseases like cholera. As a result, our long-term plan for refugee camps such as Cox’s Bazar include the installation of water pumps and water wells. But it is only with the help of our generous donors that we can continue with our work with one of the most devastated and persecuted people in the world – and remember these people are eligible for your zakat too.