BY SHAKIR HUSAIN
Shabbily dressed and barefoot children extended their little hands to receive packets of biscuits while women gathered to receive bags of foodstuffs.
The children, smiling and displaying an innocence disconnected with the reasons behind their misery, ran towards a group of Malaysian diplomats visiting their desolated Rohingya refugee camp in New Delhi.
It was a small gesture of aid made by some members of the Malaysian Administrative and Diplomatic Service Association (PPTD) through the High Commission of Malaysia.
About 60 Rohingya families received food provisions from PPTD president Datuk Dr Ahmad Jailani Muhamed Yunus, who was accompanied by Malaysia’s High Commissioner to India Datuk Hidayat Abdul Hamid and other diplomats on Feb 15.
“This effort was arranged through voluntary contributions. We promote a spirit of charity and corporate social responsibility among our members,” says Ahmad Jailani.
Ahmad Jailani hopes his visit to the Delhi refugee camp would raise greater awareness among PPTD officers about the Rohingya plight.
“Reaching out to those in distress through humanitarian missions is important, but we should all work to end the conflicts and violence that cause human suffering,” he says.
As Malaysia is active in helping the Rohingya people fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar, PPTD thought of helping the refugee group living in bleak conditions in a makeshift camp in Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj area.
Ahmad Jailani, who is secretary-general of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, visited the Indian capital last week to chair the 71st executive committee meeting of the African-Asian Rural Development Organisation.
The PPTD president, who earlier toured the vast Rohingya camps in Bangladesh, said he wanted to see in what conditions they lived at the Delhi camp.
Supported by the Zakat Foundation of India, some 250 Rohingya refugees are housed in tents at the site.
Their shanties on an adjoining piece of land were destroyed in a blaze in April 2018.
“They lost everything in that fire, their personal belongings and documents. Fortunately, there was no loss of life,” says Abdur Rahman, an administrative officer with the Zakat Foundation, recalling the ordeal the refugees faced in rebuilding their lives.
Many refugees lost the papers to prove their land and property ownership claims in Myanmar’s Rakhine region.
“Our foundation wanted to build a better shelter for them but work was stopped due to some legal issues,” he says.
The project to rebuild the gutted Darul Hijrat camp at an estimated cost of six million rupees (RM343,355) involved building waterproof and fireproof dwellings with proper power and water supplies.
Abdur Rahman briefed the Malaysian diplomats how the Zakat Foundation takes care of the refugee camp.
The foundation has helped 64 children to receive school education.
“We do get support from generous individuals and groups. The camp residents were happy to receive aid from the Malaysian High Commission. We hope this will encourage more people to come forward to improve the lives of the Rohingya refugees,” says Abdur Rahman.– Bernama