Aid for victims of Syrian conflict

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DOZENS of people gathered to raise cash for humanitarian aid for people suffering in Syria’s civil war.

Portsmouth Bengali Community Association held the event at the Buckland Community Centre on Sunday.

COLOURFUL Shamima Miah, left, and her friend Shefali Uddin were selling saris ''            Picture: Malcolm Wells (141513-2544)

COLOURFUL Shamima Miah, left, and her friend Shefali Uddin were selling saris '' Picture: Malcolm Wells (141513-2544)

Jayda Begum Khan is the secretary of the association.

She said the people in the Bengali community in Portsmouth wanted to get together and also support the Red Cross humanitarian effort in Syria, which has been in a civil war since 2011.

She said: ‘There’s a strong desire in the community to help. We are raising money to go to the Red Cross to civilian refugees and support families and children in crisis there.

‘Another reason we thought it was important was we have noticed there’s lots of negativity about Syria in the media and involvement with people in Portsmouth.

‘We wanted to send out a message to people in our community.

‘We want to help them – help in a positive and useful way.’

Stalls selling jewellery, food, clothing and doing henna tattoos were at the event, all raising cash for the cause.

Shamima Miah, 35, from North End, was selling saris and salwar suits with her friend Shefali Uddin, 35, from Fratton. The pair had bought the material from India to sell.

Shamima said: ‘It’s not just because it’s Syria – there are people in need who need it. If you can do a little bit for them it’s good.’

People gathered at the community centre heard that the Red Cross is supporting 4m people a month affected by the conflict.

Charlie Pericleous, works on hate crime at Portsmouth City Council.

He said: ‘Unfortunately 34 Red Cross staff have died as the country remains dangerous.’

He added that Red Cross has around 240 staff working in the country.

The event comes after the city council produced a leaflet urging people to help in a humanitarian way, after a group of men from the city travelled to fight.

As reported, Ifthekar Jaman, 23, from Southsea was killed fighting with an al-Qaeda linked group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group (ISIS) which is opposed to the Syrian government of President Bashar Al-Assad.

Mashudur Rahman Choudhury, 31, of Stubbington Avenue, North End, was found guilty of terrorism offences after returning to the city from Syria.

Muzahid Chowdhury is the vice-chair of the PBCA. He said: ‘We’re fundraising for Syria because people are struggling.’