The ground reality in India
The outbreak of COVID19 has caused acute adversity and distress world over. However, the afflictions and misery of the underprivileged sections of the society in general and refugees, in particular, remain unprecedented. Per the report of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (hereinafter UNHCR), India hosts more than 3,00,000 refugees out of which a significant proportion is composed by the Rohingyas’ from Myanmar who have been declared to be the most persecuted community globally, by the UNHCR.
In the wake of the ongoing 21-day lockdown in India, Contego Humanitas Foundation became aware of the privations of these immigrants living in the Kanchan Kunj and Shram Vihar camps of Delhi. Less than 40% of the population living in these two refugee camps are employable and most of them are daily wage labourers. Hence, in the absence of work and monetary aid, the condition of these refugees was heart-rending. The situation was so critical that they dreaded death not just owing to the virus but more significantly due to hunger.
Efforts by Partner Civil Society Organisations
However, with the relentless efforts of our volunteers and the support and cooperation of other civil society organisations (hereinafter CSOs) like ‘Ummid ki Udan’ and ‘Project Baala’, the circumstances there, have improved significantly. With the agenda to ensure supply of ration and other essential goods, Contego Humanitas Foundation has initiated a fundraising campaign. The purpose of this campaign is to raise a capital of Rs. 3,00,000/- to feed approximately 146 Rohingya refugee families living in the ‘jhuggis’ of Kanchan Kunj and Shram Vihar for one month.
In the recent past Ummid Ki Udan supported 150 families including 58 Rohingya refugee families and migrant families with dry ration (ration includes 5kg Rice, 5kg Flour, 1-litre cooking oil, 1 kg salt, 1.5 kg daal, and 4 soaps) in the Kanchan Kunj settlement. In the second round, they distributed ration to these 58 Rohingya families with UNHCR and 30 migrants families in the same location in collaboration with the Delhi Police.
They also reached out to the refugee settlement in Shram Vihar and distributed dry rations to 150 families, which included 96 Rohingya refugee families and other widows/migrants/handicapped persons, again under the able supervision of the Delhi Police. These troubled times not only have an impact on our economy and our body but also on our mental health. The Ummid ki Udan NGO is providing counselling to all these 58 families in Kanchan Kunj settlement over phone calls.
The volunteers of Ummid ki Udaan worked tirelessly to stitch and distribute 250 face masks which is our primary line of defence in these troubled times. As a routine effort the N.G.O. provides drinking water to 58 refugee families (2000 litre drinking water every 2 days).
Our Recent Efforts
Such crisis situations have a very sinister gendered impact. Domestic violence has increased. The Government helpline has received 92,000 calls of child abuse in just 11 days of the lockdown. It is in this context that we decided to provide assistance to women to cope up with the situation. Thanks to our team-mate Shiwani Agarwal who connected us with Project Baala. Project Baala is this unique institution which seeks to educate and empower women. It is a youth-led organization committed to making menstruation a non-issue in India. In pursuance of its objective, Project Baala provides a novel sanitary napkin made by stitching three layers of cloth together and their speciality is that they are reusable for a period of 1.5 to 2 years. The use of cloth instead of plastic and their recyclable properties makes these pads not only cost-effective but also environment friendly. Project Bala provided 200 kits (of three pads each) for the refugee camps in Delhi and 600 kits for emergency relief in Gurgaon on the request raised by the Contego Humanitas Foundation, on a pro bono basis.
We laud the efforts of Project Baala. Their kit costs less than Rs. 200 and we sincerely request you to check out the wonderful work these folks are carrying out. While Contego Humanitas helped arrange these pads through Project Baala, they could not have been distributed without the on-ground team of Ummid ki Udaan.
Here is a video of a volunteer explaining how these pads are used to the women in the camp.
Goals for the near Future
With the existing quota of ration running out in the Shram Vihar camp, we aim to provide food supply kits to 96 families. These kits will entail dry rations which would suffice for 15 days for each family. In order to buy the necessary food supplies, we have been running a donation campaign. You may read about our campaign by clicking here.
The Contego Humanitas team also aims to provide water to the refugees in the Shram Vihar camp as they are currently drinking dirty water from the hand-pumps which is leading to severe health issues.
Our Foundation has been conducting numerous Human Rights campaigns over the past year. Here is the link to our report on the situation of the Rohingya Refugees in the jhuggis of Delhi for your perusal.
It is in these trying times that we see the best of humanity. It is when we reach out to help those persecuted and ousted from their homes, that we can truly realise how privileged we are.
We are in this together and shall rise victorious by joining forces to fight this invisible virus.