Muslim communities across the GTA came together this weekend for two emergency fundraisers in Markham and Mississauga, raising money to deliver life-saving aid to nearly 400,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing the violence in Myanmar.
Their homes were burned to the ground with some calling the actions of the Buddhist-majority government “ethnic cleansing.”
Refugees have made their way to Bangladesh, however their misery doesn’t end there.
The camp they are staying in is completely flooded, there are little-to-no hygiene products and very little food or water.
“Right now it’s a short term, quick emergency aid” said Mahmood Qasim, Head of Funds for Islamic Relief Canada.
“We know that 60% of those fleeing are mothers and children who need shelter, food and basic necessities. They’ve left with pretty much nothing,” he added.
Islamic Relief Canada is one of the few organisations on the ground in Myanmar. At their fundraiser on Sunday night, they shared videos from their teams risking their lives and security to show the bleak reality of the situation abroad.
“I have nightmares of all these images haunting me, I can’t sleep at night”, said Ahmed Ullah, attending the event at the Red Rose Convention Centre in Mississauga.
He’s a refugee himself, and knows all too well about the atrocities and violence in the country.
“Every time I close my eyes I see all these babies that are drowning, all these women getting raped. It’s almost impossible to sleep at night.”
He still has friends and family in Myanmar and fears for their lives. He doesn’t know where they are and says when he does hear from them it’s never an easy conversation.
“They say they might not be able to live till tomorrow…we don’t know how long we are going to survive.”
Islamic Relief Canada told CityNews the response from the community has been swift. They put together a fundraiser in just a matter of days Sunday’s event in Mississauga drew a crowd of 450 people.
They say goal is not only to raise money but also awareness, hoping that this will catch the attention of MP’s.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told the media she plans to speak up on behalf of the Rohingya refugees at the upcoming UN general assembly in New York.