Visiting Isolated Rohingyas in Buthidaung, Rakhine

Visiting Isolated Rohingyas in Buthidaung, Rakhine

ACTNews, RAKHINE – The traditional boat carried sacks of food supplies across Mayu River to Buthidaung in Rakhine State, Myanmar. On Saturday (12/1), the boat carried 146 food packages to be distributed to thousands of Rohingya families in Danomi Village.

The first day of December 2018 was a historical moment for the Rohingyas in Danomi Village. There had been no humanitarian aid that reached their village. The Rohingyas in that village has been living in isolation for years. Naing (30), a local volunteer in Myanmar, said that the Danomi Villagers can no longer work normally because the village has been blockaded.

“A few villagers in Danomi work as farmers, the rest are oddjobbers who search for jobs in villagers throughout Buthidaung,” explained Naing, Wednesday (12/5).


ACT Volunteers sailed across Malu River to Danomi Village in Buthidaung, Rakhine

Most Rohingnyas in Danomi Village live under the poverty line. It is difficult for them just to fulfill their daily needs. They have only limited food. Some of them grow vegetables on their yards and trade them for rice and oil from the local people of Rakhine.

Not only in Danomi, the food packages were also given to the Rohingyas in Zaydi Taung Village. Like the Rohingyas in Danomi, they also live in destitution. The rivers that surround the village have isolated the village from the outside world.

On Tuesday (12/4), the food packages were delivered to the needy families there.

“Currently, ACT is the only organization that has delivered aid through the local volunteers. It was the first aid packages to enter the area after years. The difficult access and the blockage make in difficult for NGOs to reach the area,” reported Sucita Pro Ramadinda of Global Humanity Response (GHR) – Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT), Wednesday (12/5).

Food packages ready to be delivered to Danomi and Zaydi Taung Villages

Challanging mission to deliver aid 

There was an interesting story of how the food aid was finally delivered to Buthidaung. According to Naing, it was an immense challenge to deliver the aid, from purchasing the food supplies in Nyaung Chaung Market in Buthidaung to actually delivering the food packages to the villages. Naing had to purchase the food supplies in secret. There were many security posts in and around the market. “The Myanmar security officers always checked us,” said Naing.

This difficulties, however, were able to be overcome by Naing and other ACT local volunteers. The Rohingyas in Buthidaung said that the aid was extremely beneficial because they are unable to move freely to make a living and feed their families.

Rohingyas in Danomi Village receiving food packages.

As told by Naing, Eiman Huson (44), a local villager of Zaydi Taung, said that he has eleven family members to feed. He is the only breadwinner. The rest of his family members are women; they cannot go out freely to work.

“I work as a farmer, and I have seven children under 18. We are happy and grateful for ACT’s food aid that consists of rice, oil, onions, chili peppers, flour, dal, noodles and dried fish. Alhamdulillah,” he said.

Lack of access to proper education

Poverty is not the only problem for the Rohingyas in Danomi and Zaydi Taung Villages. As a minority ethnic group, the Rohingya children have no access to proper education.

The Food packages consist of rice, oil, onions, chili peppers, flour, dal, noodles and dried fish

“We are poor and we live in a village. We have no joint schools. In our village, we have no influential figure to propose for schools for our children. There are approximately 150 students, some of whom study here in our house. Hopefully, ACT can also help us provide education for our children,” implored Huson.

Similar statement was also expressed by Mohamad Eliyas (42), a farmer and a head of family with twelve members. Eliyas was grateful to ACT for the aid given to his family. He also hoped for a proper education for his children.

“There is no state school here. We hope that someone will be brave enough to help us build a kind of education facility in the village. We pity our children who seem to have no future in their own village,” said Eliyas.    


 Rohingya beneficiaries grateful for the food packages

As the Guardian wrote last August, the Rohingyas in Rakhine state, where violence took place last year, are locked out of healthcare, work and education. Denied citizenship cards, they must apply for permission from the government if they want to travel and face daily discrimination.

Lu Min (not his real name), a student in Buthidaung told The Guardian that since last year’s attacks many students stayed home, fearing for their safety. “Sometimes they throw rocks, other times with slingshot or bottles,” he said. []



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