By Tauhierah Salie
It was all hands on deck at the iconic Zeenatul Islam Masjid in Muir Street in District Six on Friday afternoon, for the packing of the final relief aid container destined for Syria. Humanitarian organisation Muslim Hands has been spearheading the Big Aid Convoy effort to send relief to millions of Syrian refugees and with the support of masajid around Cape Town, tons of rice and flour has been collected.
The iconic Zeenatul Islam Masjid and non-profit organisation Muslim Hands sent off the final of 18 containers destined for Syria, where millions of refugees await the much needed aid. It comes amid a growing crisis in war striken Syria with an estimated 13.1 million people currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Muslim Hand's coordinator Sheikh Hishaam Peck thanks everyone who contributed.
Posted by Voice of the Cape Radio – VOC on Friday, 17 May 2019
Fundraising department spokesperson for Muslim Hands Abdur-Razzzaaq Mohamed gave an update of the items collected:
“This Ramadaan we managed to fill eight containers (in Cape Town), seven 40 ft and one 20 ft. Three were filled with flour and four with rice. Alghamdulilah, today we finished up our last operation in the Western Cape with the filling up of a 40 ft container weighing approximately 27 tonnes and these containers will be sent off to Syria to the refugee camps In-Sha-Allah. It takes about a month to reach them.”
This year, people were encouraged to drop off the rice and flour at their local masajids between the 6th and 18th of May. Apart from the eight containers filled in Cape Town, four were filled in Durban and six in Johannesburg.
Check out all this rice and flour inside the Big Aid Convoy headed to Syria. Subhanallah! South Africans always do the most!
Posted by Voice of the Cape Radio – VOC on Friday, 17 May 2019
The war between Syrian army forces and other groups fighting for control of territory has resulted in an increasing humanitarian crisis for its population. Since the war began in 2011, the conflict has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and displaced millions. The nation has been torn apart and the standard of living has dropped to a level that will take decades to bounce back from.
Muslim Hands co-ordinator Sheikh Hishaam Peck emphasized that while media reports have “simmered down, know very well that the plight and humanitarian plea is still ongoing.”
Although there are differing opinions over whether the war should be deemed civil, sectarian or proxy-war; the international community has continually called for the urgent signing of de-escalation agreements. Despite succeeding with such an agreement in September last year, the fighting continued.
Several countries have expressed concern of a “humanitarian catastrophe” with Belgium, Germany and Kuwait on Friday requesting an urgent follow up meeting with the United Nations Council to address solutions to the crisis.
The United Nations in March revealed that an ongoing investigation into war crimes in Syria, has produced an “overwhelming volume” of testimony, images and videos documenting atrocities committed by all sides. War crimes investigators and activists have reportedly uncovered repeated chemical weapons attacks on civilians, and countless have faced torture, summary execution and disappearance.
Concerns have now been raised of a full on offensive as Syrian forces and their Russian allies have heighten attacks to seize the last remaining territory held by rebel forces. This is evident in Idlib where at least 100 civilians have reportedly lost their lives or were injured in during an increase in airstrikes and shelling in recent weeks.
Peck highlighted the extent of damage to the country’s people and infrastructure.
“The main aspect that the public is not aware of or fail to understand is that even though the conflict has died down the effects is ever still alive. Picture planes coming with bombs, tankers bombing, shelling from all sides… Most of the buildings in Syria is down to a pile of rubble. There (are) so many refugees that are- Subghanallah- suffering. The damage physically, psychologically, socially… Their whole life has been turned upside down. It’s not like everyone can just fix it with money and life goes on again or the (factions) stop fighting and everything’s back to normal. No. They have to deal with all these issues. It’s probably going to take 20, 30, 40 years for them to rebuild and even think of having a normal, peaceful life.”
The World Population Review reported that more that 5.6 million Syrians have fled as refugees from neighbouring regions such as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. It comes amid more stringent policies regarding foreign nationals and calls for tighter boarder security. Another 6.2 million have been displaced within the country as a result of the ongoing conflict. It is believed half of those affected are children.
An estimated 13.1 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. The severity of the crisis has prompted international communities to contribute including South Africa.
and apologized to those who had to exchange their goods for rice and flour.
“We are grateful for every single donation Alghamdulilah. The reason we chose to collect rice and flour is because of the customs process that takes longer with other items. That’s why (you’ve seen us) separating the rice and flour so we can tell them (custom officials) that the whole container is just rice and it can be sent through without hassles. Some people donated other items like maize meal and tin foods but we had to ask them to return it because we can’t pack it with this. This (rice and flour) is multi-purposeful and will reach them the quickest, In Shaa Allah.”
The organisation covers the cost of the containers and shipping.
Peck committed to make the initiative an annual one.
“May Allah make us strong so we will always be able to open our hearts, like we did now, In-Shaa-Allah. I will motivate it because I feel that this type of initiative must continue every year from Muslim Hands and may it grow In-Shaa-Allah, because just to see a smile on the faces of those who are going to receive it- Alghamdulilah (Praise be to God). ”