Abu Dhabi: The weeklong fund-raising campaign in support of Rohingya refugees that began in the last week of May has raised Dh65 million, the Emirates Red Crescent Authority (ERC) announced on Saturday.
Expected to support more than a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the nationwide campaign generated funds through various platforms including social media, while thousands of individuals and charities also came forward for the cause.
The ERC launched the campaign under the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, aiming to provide more than one million displaced refugees with food supplies, medical assistance, clean water, education and housing.
The campaign was supported by all the UAE leaders, with Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), and Honorary Chairperson of the Emirates Red Crescent, ERC, leading the way with a donation of Dh10 million.
Meanwhile, Shaikh Tahnoun Bin Mohammad Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain Region, has donated Dh5 million to the campaign, while his wife Shaikha Shamsa Bint Zayed Al Nahyan donated Dh2 million for the cause.
According to ERC, more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees including 720,000 children, 240,000 women, and 48,000 elderly are languishing in make shift camps in Bangladesh, in need of food supplies, medical assistance, water, education and housing,
International statistics indicate that among the 1.2 million refugees, about 660,000 children lack access to basic health care services, clean water, food and education facilities, while over 253,000 women don’t have access to clean water and sufficient food.
More than 20 UAE-based organisations have been providing support to Rohingya refugees over the last few years, according to ERC the new campaign will bring all the units together in single team to better coordinate the relief efforts.
So far, ERC also has spent Dh5.5 million to help Rohingya refugees, with more than 700,000 people receiving help such as temporary housing, food, health care etc.
Since 2015, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape ethnic violence and persecution by Myanmar authorities.
Who are Rohingya?
The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority group, based mostly in the Rakhine province of Myanmar, with some presence in other regions of the south east Asian country. Speaking a dialect of Bengali, distinct from the commonly spoken Burmese language, Myanmar considers them Bengalis who migrated to the country during the colonial rule, while Bangladesh also refuses to accept them as citizens.
Though, they have been living Myanmar for generations, they have not been granted citizenship.
Considered outsiders, Rohingya have faced persecution for long, but the crisis has exacerbated since 2012 when ethnic riots broke out in the Rakhine province leading to hundreds of casualties and displacing thousands.
The situation further escalated in 2017 when the Myanmar Army backed by Buddhist mobs attacked and burnt villages claiming to flush out militants, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee the country. The United Nations called the military offensive in Rakhine that triggered the exodus, a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
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 detention camps in Myanmar, while more than 24,000 have been killed and 18,000 women have been allegedly raped.