Rohingya crisis: Sikh volunteers
reach Bangladesh-Myanmar border to provide langar to refugees
Speaking to The Indian Express over
phone, Amarpreet Singh, managing director, Khalsa Aid, India who has
reached Teknaf, a border town in Bangladesh where the refugees are
living in the camps, said that condition at the border was “miserable to
say the least”.
team of volunteers from Sikh organisation Khalsa Aid reached
Bangladesh-Myanmar border Sunday night to provide relief to the
lakhs of Rohingya Muslim families fleeing Myanmar.
The Indian Express over phone, Amarpreet Singh, managing director,
Khalsa Aid, India who has reached Teknaf, a border town in
Bangladesh where the refugees are living in the camps, said that
condition at the border was “miserable to say the least”.
“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 said.
He added that there were huge camps at
Teknaf and 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,” he added.
Aid team is now serving langar and water to the refugees. “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,” he added.
Another team of Khalsa Aid volunteers
is expected to reach the border town Teknaf in coming days to assist in
the relief operations, said Amarpreet.
Jeevanjyot Singh, a Khalsa Aid
volunteer from Jammu & Kashmir who is also in Teknaf, said that refugees
started from Myanmar by foot almost ten days back and then 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,” he said.
Myanmar led by its state counsellor
Aung San Suu Kyi has been rapped by the United Nations for gross human
rights violation against the tribe of Rohingya Muslims and as per UN
estimates, 2.70 lakh Rohingya Muslims have already fled to Bangladesh
and even more are trapped at the border.