It has been just over a year since the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from their home in the Rakhine State of Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh, fleeing from the military slaughter that has already killed thousands, according to media reports. Now some 900,000 are settled in a web of camps with little support for the basics of life—food being the most critical need.
The Kutupalong camp at Cox’s Bazar, a beachside city in southeastern Bangladesh, nearly 100 miles from Chittagong, is one of the refugee locations. Seeing the desperate need among the Rohingya, Conscience International has returned there for the third time since 2017 to bring another supply of food to the hungry.
Using persistence as his guide, a mandate instilled by Conscience International President Dr. James Jennings when he founded the organization in 1991 to go and give aid wherever there is war, natural disaster, or persecution of the helpless, Richard Sarker, Project Director for Southeast Asia, boarded a plane for a two-day journey to Bangladesh-- it included cancelled flights, re-routing, military delays, camp rule changes, hours of negotiations, pleas to a food ministry official to permit entry to the camp—and rain. It’s a typical routine for NGOs giving aid.
From Pennsylvania to Washington D.C. to Istanbul, to Dhaka and on to Cox’s Bazaar,(with a side trip to check on a container of medical supplies given by Conscience International to a Memorial Hospital some distance away ( It had not arrived), Sarker nevertheless made it on time to connect with the truckload of lentils and rice coming from Chittagong. Unloading the cargo with help from the local project manager, he began distribution—in a pouring rain and floods that continued to make living conditions even more insufferable for refugees and difficult for aid workers.
The stories are many among the newly arrived, but discrimination is not new to the Rohingya who have had to abscond with virtually the clothes on their backs in crisis after crisis in Myanmar, where the minority group has lived since the 8th Century, but are not recognized as citizens. They are homeless and stateless. The UN has condemned the current reported atrocities in Myanmar as “ethnic cleansing.”
Conscience International is committed to do what it can to ease the suffering where it can, but we need your support. Will you help us bring food to these people by donating in any amount? Thank You!
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