CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh: The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has delivered S$270,000 worth of humanitarian supplies to Bangladesh to provide aid for Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing a crackdown in Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state.
A Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135R aircraft carrying supplies donated by both the SAF and Mercy Relief landed in Bangladesh’s Chittagong airport on Tuesday (Oct 10).
Aid supplies from Mercy Relief included tents, solar lamps and dignity kits containing shawls, sanitary napkins and soap for women. Other items in the relief package include blankets, food and medical supplies.
A second delivery is slated for Wednesday.
The first wave of supplies were handed to Chittagong Divisional Commissioner Md Abdul Mannan and was witnessed by Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman.
Dr Maliki said: "The scale of this crisis is unprecedented and Singapore hopes to do our part, to contribute what we can as a small country, to help affected communities in Bangladesh as well as in Myanmar.
"Singaporeans are also concerned and several of our community organisations have launched fundraising drives for those affected by the conflict in the Rakhine State."
Chittagong airport is located about 150km away from the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, where more than half a million Rohingyas have fled to since attacks by militants from the community on Myanmar police posts sparked brutal reprisals by security forces.
Singaporean disaster relief agency Mercy Relief said that women are the most vulnerable group in the over-populated evacuation camps.
“With women and children making up a majority of those displaced by the conflict, there is an urgent need to prioritise their safety,” said Ms Zhang Tingjun, executive director of Mercy Relief.
“By providing solar lamps we can increase a sense of security for those sleeping out in the open. Additionally the tents distributed can provide a private space for girls and nursing mothers. Addressing these needs can promote the overall wellbeing of those displaced.”
Meanwhile, the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) on Monday said that it will render its assistance on the ground and ensure that the relief items reach the affected communities.
SRC said it plans to deploy medical, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene teams to assist with the relief efforts at these camps too - citing that the large influx of Rohingya Muslims have led to communities in the Cox’s Bazar area facing issues such as overcrowding, poor sanitation, and insufficient first aid, medical assistance, clean water and food.
Mr Benjamin William, secretary-general and CEO of SRC, said: “These challenges are likely to persist for an extended period of time. The Singapore Red Cross will remain in close contact with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to evaluate the needs on the ground, and provide further support where we can.”
Singapore non-government organisation Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation (RLAF) has also raised more than S$300,000 and will work with the UN High Commission for Refugees to distribute aid to the refugees in Bangladesh.
SAF has been working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mercy Relief and the government of Bangladesh to coordinate the delivery of the aid supplies.