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Two Muslim Aid senior staff members have just returned from Myanmar, where they supported our Burmese colleagues in their difficult work helping the beleaguered and displaced people in Rakhine state.
Our CEO, Jehangir Malik, and our Business Development Director Zac Hussain visited two places outside Sittwe, where Muslims have been fleeing their homes because of the on-going conflict. Muslim Aid is the only British Muslim charity registered to work on the ground inside Rakhine state, since the conflict first began in 2012 and we have been providing emergency shelter, food, medical aid, and education and healthcare to over 300,000 affected people.
Earlier this week Jehangir and Zac got permission from the Myanmar authorities for further humanitarian assistance. They dodged the intense tropical rain to carry heavy bags of rice – 25 kilos – for distribution in food packages which also contained, cooking oil, lentils, noodles and other basics to 500 families, totalling 2500 people.
"In that area they simply have nothing, it's not a situation where we think yet about how to provide jobs, they simply have no food. Seeing us was the highlight of their week, I will never forget their reaction when they saw our food packs," Zac told Muslim Aid staff on his return to London, adding: "Some of the people were still surviving on the Ramadan packages Muslim Aid provided a few months ago."
In another area, Muslim Aid has been able to support an income-generating programme where women receive payment from jobs making school uniforms. Jehangir and Zac had the honour of making some children and their parents very happy by distributing uniforms.
Jehangir and Zac were not able to get further north in the state to Maung Daw, where recent increase in conflict has left hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands fleeing over the border to Bangladesh, with thousands newly displaced in the area itself. The intense violence has stalled our programme there, which included mobile healthcare clinics and schooling. "We are pleading with the authorities to get access again as people really need our help there," says Jehangir, who is hopeful that, as a registered charity, we will be able to do this soon.