25 Myanmarese Muslims seek refuge in Hyderabad

Persecuted in their own country, a group of 25 Muslims from Myanmar have reached Hyderabad to take refuge here.

The group, fled Myanmar to escape ethnic violence in Rakhine state, have taken shelter at a 'dargah' at Balapur in the old city and were waiting to be recognized as refugees by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Confederation of Voluntary Organisations (COVA), which works with UNHRC, said it would help the refugees in acquiring the refugee status from the UN body's office in New Delhi.

COVA executive director Mazhar Hussain told IANS that the group has joined 100 to 125 Myanmarese refugees who have been living in Hyderabad for the last two years.

"Most of the refugees already living here work as daily labourers," said Hussain. The city has about 500 refugees from eight countries. COVA works among refugees to address their legal problems, sensitise police towards the rights of refugees and provide medical assistance.

However, the arrival of the latest group of Myanmar has attracted attention in view of the situation prevailing in that country.

Muslim organizations and individuals are competing with each other to express solidarity and help Rohingyas, as the Muslims from Myanmar are called.

Safa Baitulmal, a Muslim socio-religious group, was first to reach Balapur with food, clothes and other essential items. "We are trying to see that they get some employment and don't become beggars," Safa Baitulmal president Gyas Ahmed Rashadi told IANS.

He, however, said after providing relief during last couple of days, they stopped the work in view of the police objections over some issue. The organization will resume the assistance after the group gets refugee status.

Zahid Ali Khan, editor of Urdu daily 'Siasat', visited the refugees and participated in the Iftar with them. He distributed ration among the families and assured all possible assistance to them.

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), the powerful Muslim political party in Hyderabad, has also come forward with a helping hand. MIM legislator Ahmed Balala met the refugees and assured all help on behalf of the party.

The refugees alleged that Buddhist groups were butchering Muslims for refusing to renounce Islam. The eight families fled Rakhine state to reach Bangladesh and via West Bengal arrived in Hyderabad.

The United Nations and the Amnesty International have already voiced concern over reports of killings of Rohingya people by both Buddhists and the security forces.

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