KUALA LUMPUR: The year 2018 has been an eventful year for Malaysia and among the most praiseworthy initiatives have been those related to its relief and humanitarian efforts in the region.
The country has been steadfast, committed and serious in lending a hand to its neighbours, often taking on mammoth missions in areas plagued by natural disasters such as the devastating earthquakes and tsunami in Indonesia’s Lombok island and Central Sulawesi, and in dealing with the refugee crisis of the displaced Rohingya from Myanmar.
Even with a supportive government, none of these tasks would have been possible if not for the tireless efforts of its people.
Malaysians, be they individuals, uniformed personnel, politicians, business people and even companies and non-governmental organisations, have worked together in the forefront and from behind the scenes, assisting victims of the many catastrophes and misfortunes in these areas.
Standing out among its humanitarian efforts is the Ummah Village in Palu City in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.
The construction of the Ummah Village was perhaps Malaysia’s largest initiative as the area was severely affected by both the 7.7 magnitude earthquake and tsunami killing at least 2,000 residents and damaging almost 7,000 homes. More than 152,000 others were also reported missing.
The building of the village and much of the construction was made possible with help from the Malaysian Islamic Organisations Consultative Council (Mapim) and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).
Built at an estimated cost of RM1 million, the village has 100 houses, a mosque which can accommodate 300 people, a water pump, common kitchen, toilets, water kiosks and play areas for children. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa had the honour of officially opening the village.
In the wake of the earthquake in North Lombok on Aug 5, aid organisations such as the Global Peace Mission (GPM) Malaysia was proactive, wasting no time in building temporary homes and setting up water tanks in affected areas for the victims.
Also stealing some of the attention and rightfully so, was the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) which provided the A400M and C130H aircrafts that made several trips carrying loads of basic food items, toiletries and other necessities to the victims.
The delivery of these essentials was an accomplishment and demonstrated the efficiency and expertise of the ATM pilots as Palu’s airport runway was damaged after the earthquake.
Moreover, operating the A400M carrier, the largest aircraft in the Asean region under such circumstances, was also a feat in itself.
ATM had also made an impression at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, after taking charge of the field hospital in March which was in fact, set up by Malaysia’s Ministry of Health and in operation since late last year (2017).
Its objective was to treat Rohingya refugees, both old and young who were malnourished, diseased and ill. Some were even pregnant.
There had been an influx of over 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh who had been forced out of Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, following the country’s military operation in the area in August last year.
The field hospital complete with operating theatres, consultation and treatment rooms is manned by a team of several Malaysian doctors and nurses who work on rotation.
What has been even more outstanding was the ATM medical team had successfully performed 13 laparoscopic surgeries on Rohingya refugees.
It was clearly an achievement for the team as there were no other hospitals in Cox’s Bazar that had conducted such surgical procedures.
From the various activities and efforts carried out, it is obvious that Malaysians and the Malaysian government are committed and have played a big role in helping rebuild the lives of so many distressed and oppressed individuals.
For the Rohingya, the government will continue providing assistance and treatment to the community at the field hospital.
As for those affected by the natural disasters in Indonesia, several funds have been established by Malaysians to provide help.
The Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Fund are but just a few examples of the sincerity of Malaysians in offering aid and reaching out to those who not only lost their homes, but also their source of income.
Such help is just the boost the victims need to move forward. — Bernama