NGOs send aid to Sabah islanders

Much needed: A volunteer handing over a food basket to a resident of Pulau Danawan in Semporna.

KOTA KINABALU: Despite the strict movement control on coastal communities, there is no let up in food aid delivery to islanders in Sabah’s east coast areas.

The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) is also helping NGOs deliver food baskets and other essentials to the fishing communities at dozens of islands that dot the Semporna district.Two security vessels escorted NGOs Semporna Heroes and Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation to send food baskets to 350 families in the Pulau Danawan area on Sunday.

Poverty-Stricken families in far-flung islands off the east coast are beginning to receive formula supplies, thanks to private donors from across the country and from as far as Singapore and Brunei.

Over the last two weeks, a group of volunteers from Kota Kinabalu distributed more than six tonnes of infant formula to families who have been cooped up at home due to the enhanced movement control order (MCO).

The 33 volunteers ferried food aid to residents on eight boats under the close watch of Esscom which was led by officers Asst Comm Mohamad Pajeri Ali and Lt-Kol Sulaiman Sawad.

Many residents on the islands have, over the past month, complained of running out of food and essentials like infant formula milk due to the enhanced MCO since early October.The volunteers distributed rice, sugar, cooking oil, salt and face masks to families. Those with children received infant formula milk as well.Heeding the call from NGOs in Kunak and Semporna, siblings David and Margaret Ng alongside a friend who gave her name as Cassie, bandled together to raise funds from church groups, relatives, ex-schoolmates and friends to buy infant formula.

Their first batch of infant formula was sent to Semporna, said David.

He added that people kept coming forward to help through donations and voluntary work.

“NGOs like Semporna Heroes under Jamilah Chang helped identify the needy families and distributed the milk to them.

“Later, we heard a similar situation was developing among islanders in neighbouring Kunak.

“We began to make a louder appeal and people came forward to donate generously for the cause.

“We were able to buy more infant formula to be sent to Kunak and Semporna,” he said, adding that two consignments cost about RM50,000.

Mohd Sarhazmie Sarail of Persatuan Kunak Prihatin, which started out with an appeal for milk, was astounded by the overwhelming response to help hundreds of infants and children.

The volunteers however complained that when they started buying in bulk, certain supermarkets increased prices.

They said the price of a 900g packet of a certain brand of baby formula sold at a supermarket was increased from RM19 to RM23.95.Separately, Esscom commander Deputy Comm Datuk Ahmad Fuad Othman said operations against illegal immigrants in the waters off Semporna and neighbouring Kunak district were continuing.

He said Esscom had been carrying out specific operations since Oct 10 at targeted areas in a bid to check illegal immigrants who could be carrying the Covid-19 virus.

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Food baskets , Semporna Heroes , covid-19


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