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Press Release: Bangladesh Rohingya first Ramadan outside Myanmar

PRESS RELEASE

Date of issue: Thursday 17 May 2018

Muslim Aid races against the clock to help Bangladesh Rohingya for their first Ramadan outside Myanmar, and supports those left displaced inside the country Ramadan starts today, and international teams from global humanitarian agency Muslim Aid have spent the past week on the road, helping prepare Rohingya refugees for the holiest time of their year. For the Rohinyga who have fled to Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, it will be their first Ramadan outside their country, to be spent in desperate conditions.

Muslim Aid international programmes director Imtiaz Mohammed, who returned yesterday from Cox's Bazar, feels strongly about the rights of the Rohingya to have even a semblance of the holy month and Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan.

"The refugees told me they will definitely be fasting, yet they have very little food to eat before and after fasting, not much access to clean water to drink or wash and their tents are like ovens. Through our local partner GUSS we will provide fuel so people are able to cook and will make sure they have sugar and special treats during Ramadan and to mark Eid. We will also make sure the children have new clothes and will provide Eid entertainment. We want the Rohingya to celebrate Eid just like other Muslims around the world."

Mr Mohammed adds: "With our support, GUSS has also been distributing hygiene kits of soap, laundry cleaner, buckets and mugs. We are worried about the advent of the monsoon and possible disease breaking out due to lack of hygiene."

Mr Mohammed was in the Kutapulong Expansion Site, a 3000 acre tent city with 600,000 Rohingya inhabitants. They live in close proximity to each other in makeshift tents as far as the eye can see. He adds: "We have also been distributing hygiene kits of soap, laundry cleaner, buckets and mugs. We are worried about the advent of the monsoon and possible disease breaking out due to lack of hygiene."

Muslim Aid will support a total of 5000 people with festive food packs consisting of aromatic rice, flour, a special variety of lentils (mushar dal), cooking oil, chick-peas (chole), vermicelli, sugar, spices, onions, dates and sugar. Clothes and slippers will be given to 2000 children who would otherwise be barefoot. Muslim Aid has also worked with GUSS to provide shelter upgrade kits consisting of tarpaulin, bamboo, timber, rope, wire and nails.

Our team within Myanmar has delivered food parcels to refugees who without these would not be able to eat a substantial Suhoor, the first meal of the day, which is eaten long before dawn and prior to the first prayer. Suhoor has to keep a fasting person going until the evening ifthar which breaks the fast. Without the parcels, these displaced Rohingya refugees would not be able to break their fasts with good food during the holy month. The food parcels include a 25kg bag of rice, two litres of cooking oil, beans, beef, chili, onion, garlic, dry noodles, condensed milk and sugar.

"Ramadan can be a difficult time for people who have been internally displaced within Myanmar. Our team has delivered food parcels to people living in remote camp areas, with little or no access to any food to break their fast. Our staff will break the fast with refugees to show solidarity and comfort. We are hopeful for better times in the future," said Chan Myae Aung from Muslim Aid Myanmar's communications team.

A Live Appeal at the end of this week will raise funds for Rohingya refugees and forms an important part of Muslim Aid's Ramadan campaign Feed the Fasting. Our main campaign invites the UK Muslim community to make their Zakat really count. During this special month, we are aiming to raise £6 million, for life-saving work with new-born babies in Gaza, drought affected communities in Somalia and Syrian refugees.

Ramadan is traditionally a time for people to think about those less fortunate than themselves, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.

For further information or interviews with Imtiaz Mohammed please contact Beverley Cohen at beverley.cohen@muslimaid.org (07921 655272) or Eileen Maybin at eileen.maybin@muslimaid.org (07769 68943). 

Notes to Editors

• Muslim Aid is a relief and development agency set up in the United Kingdom in 1985 to provide humanitarian assistance to disaster affected countries and to help poor and vulnerable communities overcome poverty. Muslim Aid works with all communities irrespective of faith.

• Muslim Aid Myanmar's work encompasses shelter, education, healthcare and training and livelihood skills.

• In four schools in Sittwe, Myanmar, MA is paying village women to cook meals, which are being delivered to the schools and eaten by pupils who otherwise would not have access to lunches. This also enables the cooks to earn a living,

• We have:

1. Improved access for both girls and boys to 300 learning centres.

2. Constructed seven temporary learning schools in camps and villages, benefiting 3,250 children.

3. Before these projects, many children were completely illiterate and didn't even own a pair of slippers. Now many have school uniforms, made by girls trained to sew by Muslim Aid.

4. Constructed 15 long shelters, each housing eight families and benefiting 720 people. More shelters are planned and existing shelters will be repaired.

5. Wem are training refugees to earn a living, with a focus on empowering vulnerable women. Skills will range from making soap and shampoo, animal rearing, handicrafts, agriculture, masonry, mobile phone repair.

6. We are developing both static and mobile clinics in camps and villages.

7. We are improving access and health conditions of children, women, men, disabled and elderly, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

• What Zakat can buy includes:

8. £ 60 could buy breakfast and sunset meals for a family during the month of Ramadan in Yemen

9. £200 could provide shelter for a family in Syria

10. £300 could provide water to 100 drought-affected families in Somalia.

11. Muslim Aid is one of the top 20 UK relief and development agencies, alongside Christian Aid, Save the Children and Oxfam. It was set up in the UK in 1985 to provide humanitarian assistance to disaster affected countries and to help poor communities overcome poverty. Muslim Aid covers 70 countries, working with all communities irrespective of faith, ethnic origin or political system. For further information visit muslimaid.org

12. As one of the pillars of Islam, Zakat is a religious obligation for all adult Muslims, who meet the criteria, as opposed to a charitable contribution. If your personal wealth, or what you own, is more than the cut off amount, you owe Zakat. This is usually calculated at 2.5% of income.

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