Refugees boosted by £40,000 Rotherham mercy mission

MORE than £40,000 in aid raised by a Rotherham mosque and the Rotherham community has been handed over to desperate refugees in Hungary in a huge ongoing mercy mission.

Food, clothing and essential items were delivered in a convoy of vehicles which set out from Rotherham’s Ridge Road Mosque to travel to the border areas of Hungary, Austria and Croatia and a trip to Greece is planned for next month.

The man leading the effort, Najibullah Zay, was himself a refugee from war-torn Afghanistan about 15 years ago.

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Mr Zay (35), now works as a taxi driver and has four children, a son Mohammed aged nine and three daughters Soffya (7), Hurehia (5) and one-year-old Tayyaba.

He said:  “When people saw the terrible scenes of fleeing refugees on the TV news it really made us think and some of the brothers from the mosque got together to see what we could do for the sea of humanity and the most needy through the mosque.

“I got together with my friend Zaheer Hussain and we discussed how we could utilise the means to raise funds from the local community.

“We have now raised more than £40,000. We did shopping here from local businesses, including food, sanitary items, nappies and things that the refugees really need.”

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A team of people from the Ridge Road Mosque has been organising aid alongside Najbullah and Zaheer, including the imam, Moulana Adbul-Kabir, Shoaib Mahmood and Omar Shazahad.

The first convoy went out to Hungary in September during Eid Ul-Adha - a muslim festival known as Big Eid.

Lorries arrived in Budapest before going to the border crossing area with Austria to a village called Hegyeshalom, which has a population of 3,000 but where 10,000 refugees arrived in one week.

 After distributing food and clothing the group went on to the Croatia-Serbia border to help other refugees.

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Mr Zay said: “When we saw those people, the most needy, they were tired and exhausted and they’d been treated very badly.

“They mostly had simple needs, such as water, after travelling up to two days on a train.

“It was very emotional. There were all groups of people, children, the elderly, disabled and the ill.

“As soon as we saw them we thought about our own family and tried to help as much as we could to help.

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“Most of the refugees were from Syria and there’s no difference between muslims or non-muslims. They all need help.

“I was a refugee myself and if not for the British Red Cross I wouldn’t be here. They are everywhere and do great work, especially in Calais and other places in Europe where refugees are landing.

“Working with people from the Red Cross again made me think of when I came from Afghanistan and how blessed I am and the way local people in Rotherham helped me.

Nizz Sabir, deputy chairman of Rotherham Council of Mosques, said: “We would like to thank the whole community of Rotherham for their participation in this.

“This is a response from the whole community, not just Muslims.”