CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH - A Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) team on Tuesday (Oct 10) arrived in Bangladesh to deliver some $270,000 worth in aid to Rohingya refugees.
The first batch of the relief package, which comprised tents, blankets, food, medical supplies and lamps, was delivered by a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) KC-135R aircraft to Chittagong airport in Bangladesh. The humanitarian supplies were donated by the Singapore Government and non-governmental aid group Mercy Relief.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman, who travelled to Bangladesh with the team, witnessed the handing over of the supplies to Chittagong divisional commander Md Abdul Mannan by Senior Lieutenant Colonel Lim Lit Lam from the SAF's Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre.
The second batch of aid is slated to be delivered to Bangladesh by the RSAF on Wednesday.
"Singapore offers our deepest condolences to all those who are affected by the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state," Dr Maliki told reporters.
"We are a small state, we do what we can to help," he added.
Some 500,000 Rohingya are estimated to have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state for Bangladesh since August.
Last month, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and SAF said they would donate approximately S$300,000 worth of humanitarian relief supplies to Bangladesh and Myanmar, on behalf of the Singapore Government, for affected communities in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State.
Singapore has also said that it is concerned about the humanitarian situation, and stood ready to support efforts by Asean to provide humanitarian assistance.
On Tuesday, Mindef said that since conveying the Singapore Government's offers of humanitarian assistance to the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar on Sept 29, the SAF has been working closely with Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mercy Relief and the government of Bangladesh to coordinate the delivery of the aid supplies to meet the needs of the displaced persons.
Dr Maliki said the supplies delivered were based on feedback from the Bangladeshi government on what was needed on the ground.
"Singaporeans are also concerned," he said, referring to the crisis, and noting that several community organisations had stepped forward to raise funds for humanitarian efforts and were working with relief agencies to help distribute them.
On Tuesday, Mercy Relief also said it had identified women as the most vulnerable group in the overpopulated evacuation camps. Its team members will be distributing relief items such as dignity kits for women that contain scarves, sanitary napkins, soap, as well as solar lamps and tents.
"With women and children making up a majority of those displaced by the conflict, there is an urgent need to prioritise their safety. By providing solar lamps, we can increase a sense of security for those sleeping out in the open," said Mercy Relief executive director Zhang Tingjun, who also travelled to Chittagong.
"Additionally, the tents distributed can provide a private space for girls and nursing mothers. Addressing these needs can promote the overall well-being of those displaced," she added.