As Malaysia and its neighbouring countries continues to deny land to the thousands of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi migrants crammed into beat-up ships adrift in the Southeast Asian seas, and fears are growing about their fate, social activist Marina Mahathir along with Syed Azmi is mobilising people to bring aid to scores of starving people, a large number of whom are children, stranded at the sea
First off, here's what people looking to help shouldn't do:
Don't get into boats and make your way out to the open sea to find the people adrift at sea to help. As Marina noted on her FB post:
Firstly, because we do not know where they are exactly and they may be way out there.
Secondly, coast guards and navies patrolling the area may not look too kindly on this and you may get into big trouble for doing that.
Lastly, it's dangerous and no good will come from endangering yourselves as well.
Look out for any announcements of donations
According to Marina's Facebook post, there are various people who are gathering food and other essentials to send to the boat people who have already landed in Langkawi and "I think Penang and other coastal areas."
She further wrote that Tan Sri Jemilah, formerly of Mercy Malaysia, is organising that with Mydin and Khazanah. Meanwhile, Mercy Malaysia too is mobilising but we're not sure what exactly yet. "I'm sure they will announce something soon," she wrote. Perhaps look out for any announcements of donations to that effort.
Speaking of which, Syed Azmi has organised a Donation Drive For Refugees, through which 1,500 people stranded at sea and at the camp in Kedah will be sponsored. You can donate money or life jackets in various sizes. Azmi shared details of his Refugees Aid:
Writing on his Facebook page, Azmi countered the question as to how are they planning to reach to the stranded boat people.
He said as the countries involved are still negotiating, "we cannot reveal our methods as yet but rest assured we are sending the goods. Kindly have faith and trust in us. We would not start this if we do not know how will it end."
"We fully understand concerns regarding logistics. We are working together with the relevant parties who are best able to provide logistics to deliver supplies to the refugees.
However, we should say that should the unforeseen happen and logistical issues remain unresolved, donations to Food Aid will be channeled to other refugees needs."
For those looking to donate money to purchase life jackets, Azmi has urged them to contact him directly. For those looking to donate money for food banked into Food Aid, here are the details:
This is for issuance of tax exemption receipt and tracking of funds.
Please email details to [email protected]
Copy of Bank in Slip/Statement
Donor's Name & I/C number as per
Full Company Name
Meanwhile, Marina has shared more details. According to her latest Facebook post, made around midnight of 16 May, some people are gearing up to take boats out to get aid to the Rohingyas out at sea.
"I sure am hoping these are experienced sailors and not just any goodhearted people getting onto any boats. They will likely come up against a navy flotilla whose task is to stop any boats from landing here," she wrote.
"It is apparently possible to negotiate with them to take supplies out to the boats. But you have to be aware that you'll have to look for them out in the big ocean"
However, Marina warned people going out in the sea on their boats, saying:
You shouldn't allow them (Rohingyas) to board your boat, nor you board theirs.
Additionally, as per Marina's post, you can lobby Putrajaya to:
1. Deal with the humanitarian situation first and provide food and shelter to those who have landed and who will land, especially if they are in serious danger. They should get pregnant women, children, the elderly and the sick off those boats and get them treated by medical personnel.
2. As chair of ASEAN to make a strong statement on this issue. They cannot any longer keep quiet about the situation in Burma because it affects all of us.
3. Lobby the wider International community and the UN to put pressure on the Burmese government on the genocide they are inflicting on the Rohingyas.
4. Seriously crackdown on human traffickers and the corrupt officials who collude with them.
5. Sign the International Convention on refugees so that we do have an official way of dealing with them, rather than simply treating them as illegals.
Many people on the boats adrift in the Andaman Sea between Malaysia and Thailand are running out of food and water. In desperation, some of them are resorting to drinking urine: