Sikh volunteers come to aid of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
The Sikh volunteers have set up a daily langar service for 30,000 to 50,000 people, and aim to build shelters for the refugees after the Bangladesh government allots land for the same.world Updated: Sep 15, 2017 09:25 IST
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, fleeing sectarian violence in Myanmar, have crossed the border into Bangladesh, short on food, water and shelter. The world has turned a blind eye, but Sikh volunteers from the UK-based international NGO Khalsa Aid have come to their aid, providing the refugees with much-needed relief.
The volunteers are currently in Teknaf, a town on the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh. They have set up a daily langar service for 30,000 to 50,000 people, and aim to build stable and secure shelters for the refugees after the Bangladesh government allots land for the same.
Amarpreet Singh, the managing director of the Indian wing of the charity organisation, said: “These people are arriving in a desperate state. I have never seen anyone so relieved for a drink of water. They have no money to pay for public transport to the refugee camps. Local rickshaws have increased their rates because of the heightened demand so we have organised transportation to take families safely to the refugee camps.”
Singh has also called the situation “the worst form of human crisis”.
“As part of Khalsa Aid, we have been to more than 20 countries for the relief missions, but this is the worst I have ever seen,” Singh was quoted by Australian radio broadcaster SBS Punjabi as saying.
“We have seen people living in the camps or open ground. The wet weather is making their lives even worse... It is an international human crisis,” he said.
Stating that langar is a core part of the Sikh faith, Singh said that there was no “timeline” for their efforts and they would continue to provide care for the refugees “until the crisis is over”.
According to the Bangladesh envoy to India Syed Muazzem Ali, close to 380,000 Rohingya have fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar since August 25, when the Myanmar Army launched a crackdown in Rakhine state following militant attacks on police posts and an army base.
Myanmar spokesperson Zaw Htay on Wednesday said that 176 of the 471 Rohingya villages in Rakhine state had been deserted, with a further 34 partially abandoned.