Fahd Abdul Rahman and Mehmoud Abdullah Al Junaibi from Emirates Red Crescent Authority brief the media on the Rohingya humanitarian camapign, in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: More than a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are slated to benefit from the latest humanitarian campaign of the Emirates Red Crescent Authority after it launched a nationwide drive to generate donations for them in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

The humanitarian campaign will also be publicised on local television stations from Friday to invite all residents across the country to participate in assisting Rohingya women and children. The current campaign is entitled, “From the UAE for Rohingya Children and Women”.

There are 1.2 million refugees, in which 720,000 are children, 240,000 women, and 48,000 elderly, and they need food supplies, medical assistance, water, education and housing, according to Red Crescent officials.

International statistics indicate that among 1.2 million people, about 660,000 children lack access to basic health care services, clean water, food and education facilities; over 253,000 women don’t have access to clean water and sufficient food.

The 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis refers to the mass migration of people from Myanmar in 2015, Since August 25, Burmese security forces have been carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape killings, arson, and other mass atrocities. The atrocities committed by Burmese security forces, including mass killings, sexual violence, and widespread arson, amounting to crimes against humanity.

Speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of Thursday’s press conference at the headquarters of Emirates Red Crescent in Abu Dhabi, Dr Mohammad Ateeq Al Falahi, Director General of the authority, said: “So far, in Bangladesh, more than one million refugees have sheltered there. We need to benefit all of them especially the women and children.

“We target to reach all Rohingya refugees who have sheltered in different neighbouring countries of Myanmar. Since the trouble started a few years back they have started taking refugees in Bangladesh, at the same time, we also started providing them possible help,” he said.

Public participation

“This time, our government decided to let the UAE people participate in helping Rohingya Muslim brothers and generate their donations. That’s why, this time we allow through this campaign everybody to share,” said Dr Al Falahi.

Before different organisations from the UAE were working there, but now, 20 UAE humanitarian organisations will work together as one team and maximise our reach to needy people,” he said.

There are a number of different UAE organisations working in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Emirates Red Crescent who have so far spent Dh5.5 million alone and more than 700,000 people have benefited from the Red Crescent’s actions alone.

“We build wells, provided them with clean water, medical assistance, plastic sheets, constructed temporary houses and gave food. We also cooperated with Bangladesh Red Crescent,” he said.

The campaign is being launched under directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

“We feel proud that the UAE was the first country which started humanitarian efforts in Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees and carried out a number of projects for the benefits of children and women in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Affairs, Saudi Arabia and Malaysian hospitals,” added Dr Al Falahi.

What is the Rohingya crisis?

The Rohingya people are a mostly Muslim minority group (some Hindu) residing in the western state of Rakhine in Myanmar. The crisis refers to their mass migration following ethnic cleansing by Myanmar’s majority Buddhist regime.

When it began?

Rohingya have always been a sidelined minority in Myanmar, but this latest crisis started with anti-Muslim riots in 2012. Evidence of human rights abuses surfaced on a much wider scale in 2015, and mass migration into neighbouring countries has continued since.

How many people have been displaced?

Since 2015, over 900,000 of the 1.3 million total Rohingya population in Myanmar have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh alone. More than 100,000 are being held in confinement camps in Myanmar. More than 24,000 have been killed and 18,000 have been raped since 2017 alone.