World

She cancels family trip to help Rohingya

Singaporeans offer aid to those displaced by crisis in Myanmar

She was told about a young Rohingya woman who had her newborn smashed against the wall by Myanmar soldiers.

This was one of the many harrowing accounts Ms Lakhvinder Kaur heard while volunteering in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, which is near Bangladesh's border with Myanmar.

The Singaporean - a volunteer from United Sikhs, a civil rights and humanitarian organisation - has been there on a solo mission since Nov 25.

The UN Refugee Agency estimated that since August, 626,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh after violence and persecution by the Myanmar military.

Ms Kaur told The New Paper: "It is painful and heartbreaking to witness the displacement and hear their stories.

"Its feels like I am watching a horrible, ugly movie."

Those in Singapore are not remaining idle either.

Disaster relief agency Mercy Relief and the Singapore Red Cross have received donations totalling $230,000 from over 600 individuals and organisations in Singapore for the Rohingya refugees.

Of the $100,000 donated to Mercy Relief, $40,000 were raised by individuals through independent crowdfunding campaigns.

Mercy Relief executive director Zhang Tingjun said: "As stories of the refugee crisis reach our shores, there has been a significant number of Singaporeans who have generously contributed to the relief efforts."

In Cox's Bazar, Ms Kaur, a senior counsellor, has provided psychological support to more than 200 traumatised women and children whose family members were raped and murdered by Myanmar soldiers.

This is her second trip to Cox's Bazaar, with the first in September. She cancelled a family trip to visit three refugee camps - Gundum, Kutupalong, Balukhali - there.

Ms Kaur said: "I came back again because these refugees needed help dealing with the trauma they had gone through."

In Balukhali, she worked with more than 190 boys whose parents had died in the crisis and who struggled with nightmares after witnessing the killings and bombings in their villages.

She said: "It is heartbreaking to see these children suffering because of political issues."

Back home, a flea market raising medical funds for the refugees was organised on Nov 26 by the Humanist Society (Singapore).

ATTENDEES

The event saw about 200 attendees and raised $2,000.

Mr Chee Hoew Cheng, 50, secretary of the organisation, said: "It is the first time we are fund-raising for a specific issue and it was encouraging to see the highest number of donors contributing items to our flea market."

Singaporeans have also donated humanitarian supplies.

During a recent charity recycle drive at the Singapore Expo, local humanitarian aid relief agency Global Ehsan Relief collected 14 tonnes of pre-loved clothes and soft toys for the Rohingya refugees.

Madam Nur Liyana Binte Jamaludin, 29, donated two bags of towels, clothing, blankets and soft toys during the drive.

She said: "I wanted the refugees to feel our warmth and love from Singapore."

Ms Kaur, who returns to Singapore today, said: "The Rohingya refugees need all our support as they go through this difficult chapter of their lives."

WORLD