Yousuf Janab Ali, Chairman of Clonakilty’s Islamic Cultural Centre of West Cork, recently travelled for the second time to his native country Bangladesh to volunteer at one of the Rohingya camps.
Bangladesh is now sheltering more than a million Myanmar refugees in camps, some 700,000 of whom have poured over the border in the past 18 months fleeing ongoing genocide in Rakhine state where thousands have been killed.
Cox’s Bazar is now the world’s largest refugee settlement. Humanitarian organisations are overwhelmed by the vast scale of needs in the severely overcrowded camps. In addition, more than half of the Rohingya refugees in the camps are children. The situation has become so bad that Bangladesh has threatened to close its borders.
Yousuf and his family have lived in Clonakilty since 2000. He has been fundraising since he returned from his trip last year and says that he is very grateful for the support shown by the local community in Clonakilty and all over West Cork.
“It’s a very sad and distressing situation,” said Yousuf. “I am from a very poor farming family in Bangladesh and what I have seen here the past two years makes me appreciate what I had growing up. So many people have nothing. The people who have arrived more recently and are unregistered are living in very bad conditions.”
Yousuf helped to fund and build six wells during his visit this year.
“It is only getting worse,” he says. “The people are still coming. There is not enough food and there are so many children that are hungry and do not even have clothes. There are no schools. They wait all day to get some rice or potatoes from the relief agency and only those at the front get the food. They may not even have one full meal a day. It is a struggle to survive.”
With the monsoon season approaching in April things are only going to get worse in the camps.
As well as running his own business, a shop in Spiller’s Lane in Clonakilty selling Asian spices and products, Yousuf supports his family by working in a local hotel. He still sends money home regularly to his family in Bangladesh.
Yousuf would like to thank everyone who has helped him provide support in the Rohingya crisis.
If you would like to make a donation to help Yousuf help the people of Rohingya the account details are: A/C Direct Help for Rohingya. BIC AIBKIE2D. IBAN IE85AIBK93605714585183.