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Many on Rohingya aid ship disappointed by restrictions

On board Nautical Aliya.

By Patrick Lee and Shahrul Nazrij Rezal
February 14, 2017

CHITTAGONG: When word started to spread that only 25 people from the aid ship Nautical Aliya would be able to go to Rohingya refugee camps, Abdullah Yusuf, 26, got angry.

The Swedish volunteer was seen talking heatedly with Bangladesh immigration officers, asking if he could be left off the ship.

“I left my job, I left my wife (back home). I just got married two months ago, and now you tell me I cannot go?” he told The Star.

“I just hope I can take my passport and leave.”

On Tuesday at about 11.30am local time, the aid ship carrying some 2,100 tonnes of cargo for Rohingya refugees arrived in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on what organisers are calling the “Food Flotilla for Myanmar” mission.

Bangladesh government officials then met with mission organisers for about two hours on how the aid was going to be distributed.

They later decided that only 25 of the 182 passengers would be allowed off the ship to go to Rohingya refugee camps on Wednesday and Thursday.

Aid mission organisers said Bangladesh officials would not allow more than this number, citing safety reasons.

On Saturday, volunteer Kelana Putra Muhamad, 44, told The Star that all he wanted to see was the condition at just one camp and how its people lived.

“I wanted to see with my own eyes how much they have suffered, so that I can go back to Malaysia and tell people how good we really have it,” he said then.

On Tuesday, however, he was speechless.

“I don't know what to say. I don’t know how to express this,” he said.

French volunteer Moussa Yacoub, 39, who has been to Bangladesh many times, said, “Sometimes you win, (sometimes) you lose. You can’t win all the time.”

Still, he wondered why so many of those who were going were journalists.

Though sad at not being picked to go, Muhammad Uqbah Ahmad Termiz, 25, however was still hopeful.

“A lot of us are dissatisfied. We wanted to help them (the Rohingya) and kiss them.

“But it doesn’t matter whether we go or not, the mission is important for the media to go in the camp and record what’s going on there,” he said.

Except for a small amount given on Wednesday and Thursday, most of the cargo lifted from the Nautical Aliya will be distributed by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM).

Committee co-chief Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim said Bangladesh invited organisers to come back in about 10 to 15 days and see how the aid is being distributed.

He added that only a small number of people, about 15 to 20, would be able to go on this visit.

Only 25 from Rohingya aid ship allowed to go to camps

Only 25 people from the Rohingya aid ship will be allowed to go to refugee camps in southeast Bangladesh. Aid mission organizer co-chief Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim said the Bangladesh government only allowed the small group due to safety reasons.

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