Moderator calls for donations to help Rohingya families fleeing violence

The Moderator is asking all of us to give generously to the emergency appeal for people fleeing violence in Myanmar.

Minara and her baby
Pregnant Minara was forced to flee from her home in Myanmar. After taking a boat and a truck to Bangladesh, she gave birth to her daughter, Shomima, in a makeshift tent hundreds of miles from home.

More than 500,000 men, women and children are in urgent need of food, water, shelter and medical help after arriving traumatised and exhausted to overflowing camps and settlements in Bangladesh.

Please give generously

The Right Rev Dr Derek Browning Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said:

“In the past month the world has watched as a humanitarian crisis has continued to unfold before our very eyes. Over 500,000 people have now fled the violence in Rakhine state, Myanmar and are seeking refuge in Bangladesh.

“Having been left with little they are in desperate need of food, shelter, water and medical care, while the communities hosting them remain perilously overstretched.

“That is why I am encouraging everyone to give generously to the Disasters Emergency Committee Rohingya Crisis Appeal. With your support organisations such as Christian Aid can immediately respond to meet the needs of those whose lives have been torn apart by the conflict. With your support we can provide some hope in an otherwise dire and urgent situation.”

Journey through danger

About 15,000 people a day are crossing the border into Bangladesh after walking many miles across dangerous and difficult terrain for days on end. Forced to leave their homes, often after their villages were burned to the ground, they have no money for food or shelter.

Many mothers are escaping with newborn babies, while others are giving birth on the way. And with limited medical facilities, people are sick and at risk of serious disease.

You can help these vulnerable families and give them hope through donating to the Disasters Emergency Committee, which raises money on behalf of 13 international charities including Christian Aid, or you can give to Christian Aid’s Rohingya Crisis Appeal.

Stateless people

The status of the Rohingya people is contentious because neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh will accept them as their citizens, explains Sandy Sneddon, Asia Secretary for the Church of Scotland.

“What is certain is that the debate about the Rohingya's ethnic origins and history cannot be an excuse for withholding aid and relief to the huge numbers who need food, shelter and medical care,” he says.

“Our partners Christian Aid and the Church of Bangladesh are ready to help now. We can offer emergency relief to the Rohingya people by supporting our partners. A longer term solution will be needed in due course but we need to act now to help the vulnerable and suffering.”

Church of Bangladesh

Bishop Paul Sarker of the Church of Bangladesh, a Church of Scotland partner in the region, said the refugees face a “terrible situation” at present.

Christian charities including Christian Aid, Caritas are working with local partners to help meet the refugees basic needs. Aid efforts are being "strictly supervised" by the government and the future of the refugees remains uncertain.

“Our hearts go out to the displaced people,” he says.

“The women and children are facing the worst suffering. The developing sanitation crisis is posing a huge risk to health. Our church plans to work in collaboration with other agencies supporting women and children.

“The crisis is huge and we think it will last for a long time. We believe support for the Rohingyas should include both an immediate and a longer-term plan.”