The private broadcaster Raajje TV has raised more than MVR4 million (US$260,000) to help Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing violence in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
“We initially targeted for MVR1 million during a 24-hour telethon. Later we decided to extend it for another five hours due to demand from the public,” Hussain Fiyaz Moosa, the station’s chief operating officer, told the Maldives Independent after the 30-hour telethon ended Monday night.
“Reaching MVR4 million means that this is the most successful telethon conducted by a private TV station.”
The telethon featured special reports on the plight of the Rohingya and songs dedicated to the cause as well as appearances by local musicians and film stars.
Hundreds of people made small donations with many bringing their children to drop cash into a fund box set up outside the Raajje TV studios in Malé.
Several companies, cafés, restaurants, civil society groups, councils, and sports clubs donated to the fund whilst 19 island councils participated in the initiative with fundraising drives across the country.
The Maldives has been gripped in the past week by media reports about the persecution of the Rohingya ethnic minority, prompting several groups to organise fundraising activities amidst an outpouring of sympathy for the fellow Sunni Muslims.
Marches in solidarity with the Rohingya have taken place on several islands, including Maarandhooin Haa Alif atoll, Kamadhoo in Baa atoll, and Gahdhoo and Villigili in Gaaf Dhaal atoll.
Earlier this month, the Maldives severed trade relations with Myanmar until its government “takes measures to prevent the atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims.”
On Sunday, the Maldivian government also announced plans to hold a telethon from September 21 to 23 in collaboration with private media and civil society groups.