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Who we are

Discover the story of an aid organisation doing things differently

We empower people who are displaced by involving them in the process of providing urgent aid and basic necessities with dignity and equity.

We're proud to be


A female-led project, spearheaded by female founder Ruhi Akhtar, who set up and continues to run the organisation.


A community-led organisation with a field team consisting of 80% people from the refugee and asylum seeking community, representing 10+ countries


An organisation governed and advised by experts with backgrounds in forced displacement, members of the LGBTQ+ community & those in the global majority.

Our story

The tragedy of Alan Kurdi

In September 2015, when Ruhi Loren Akhtar (RBB Founder and CEO) saw images of Alan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned after his boat capsized as his family tried to reach Europe, she was in shocked. At the time, her nephew, Usmaan, was the same age as Alan and she recalls he had a red t-shirt resembling what Alan wore the day he drowned.

Enough is enough

“That night I couldn’t sleep”, Ruhi recalls. “I thought to myself: ‘This could have been my nephew. This could have been my child. Enough reading about a ‘refugee’ crisis. Enough sharing social media posts. I have to actively do something about it.” This inspired Ruhi with a group of friends to volunteer in the camps of Northern France for displaced people.

The Biriyani Mission

After a call out on social media the appeal gained momentum and over 200 volunteers from all over UK and Europe helped to fulfil different aspects of this first mission. Based on the request of the community there, volunteers helped prepare, cook, and distribute biriyani and bananas over two busy days from a renovated mobile bus-kitchen to people seeking asylum in Northern France.

A global aid charity

When the group returned home, they felt that they could not turn their backs on the people affected by the crisis, and they knew they had to continue to help. They then decided to form a grassroots organisation called Refugee Biriyani & Bananas (RBB) after ‘The Biriyani Mission.’ Since then, the charity has continued to support displaced communities across the globe.

Meet the team

Ruhi Akhtar

CEO & Founder

Moussa Sany

Project Coordinator

Muhammad Sufi

Project Coordinator

Refugee Biriyani and Bananas is made possible by our large family of volunteers and supporters who join us to deliver aid and work in solidarity with communities that are forcibly displaced. Their energy and enthusiasm makes all our projects possible.

Our ambassadors

Habib Rahman

Ex Lord Mayor of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Newcastle Upon Tyne Councillor. Founder & Trustee of Rohingya Action North East and The Monu Dorji Foundation. Human Rights Campaigner and Key Member of Show Racism the Red Card.

Onjali Q. Rauf

Best Selling British Author of ‘The Boy in the Back of the Class’ and other children’s books. Founder of Non Governmental organisations Making Herstory and O’s Refugee Aid Team. Human Rights Campaigner and Woman’s Rights Activist.

Gulwali Passarlay

Internationally Renowned Author of ‘The Lightless Sky.’ A best seller on the life of Gulwali who travelled from Afghanistan to the UK to eventually receive refugee status. Human Rights Activist and Charity Trustee for Refugee and Afghan Rights.

Our trustees

Abdelilah Alhamoud

Vice Chair

Frances Loring


Jacob Warn


Jennifer Capasso


Thomas Snape


Our values

Our humanitarian aid work is underpinned by values that work towards a sustainable and equitable future for all.

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