Imtiaz Mohammed of “Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago”, an organized group of Muslims from the twin Caribbean islands state of Trinidad and Tobago delievered relief supplies to Somali refugees in Dabaab, Kenya. This was the second stop in their efforts to bring relief to refugees continuing from Bangladesh where they provided relief supplies to Rohingya refugees.
Mr. MOhammed reports that the “journey to Dadaab started at approximately 6:30am. Every drive to Dadaab from Garissa is unique and a feeling of thrill and excitement in anticipation of what you would see on the way in the wild. This morning we saw ostriches, deer, jackal, hyena , camels etc.
As we got to half way through our journey, we came to a village and started taking some pictures not knowing it included a police check point. The police stopped our vehicle and aggressively started to question us on why we are taking photos. Our Kenyan contacts tried talking to them about our purpose here and being apologetic. One of the police continued to be loud and aggressive in his line of questioning to us. They ordered us out of the vehicle and took us into the tent. At that point, I said to myself, be calm and let the police do his thing. It crossed my mind that we might be arrested or detained. Eventually, an elder (Muslim) in the village was spoken to by our Kenyan contacts and we were allowed to go. The police along the journey to Dadaab is always on the alert for Al Shabaab people hence the reason pictures are not allowed to be taken at the police check points.
We continued our journey to Dadaab and arrived there at about 9:30 a.m. We immediately moved into action getting the trucks and police security to accompany us to the camp to do the distribution. As we arrived at the entrance of the distribution point, hundreds of people mainly women can be seen waiting in the hot sun to receive a hamper.
As we began the distribution things turned chaotic, aggressive, ugly and disastrous. The police failed miserably in their duties to maintain control and order during the distribution. Many times the police used excessive force against the men, women and even teenagers. We told the police many times to only let about 20 people into the distribution area at a time but they didn’t listen. The distribution had to be stopped many times. The whipping of the people especially the women at times made us furious. The police aggression was their way of trying to get control which was just inflaming the situation more and more. I felt really embarrassed and responsible for the behavior of the police, as I told myself, if we didn’t come here the people wouldn’t be treated this way. One of the women leaders came to me and Manwar and expressed her displeasure and anger at the behavior of the police, she even gave us back her card to receive a hamper. We told her, we agreed with her on the behavior of the police and we apologized unconditionally to all. In my last visit here in 2013, we did a distribution with more than one thousand people and never had a single problem. Eventually, the distribution was completed at approximately 3pm. Eight hundred families received hampers.
Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago would like to thank all for making this mission successful despite the many challenges we encountered.”