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COVID pandemic adds to Rohingya refugees woes in India

Munawar Zaman
Press TV, New Delhi


As India continues to battle the deadly Covid 19 pandemic, the destitute Rohingya community fights it all alone.

The community is not eligible to apply for vaccine since they are described as illegal immigrants, rights activists say they are in desperate need of help as the virus has started raging across the camps. 

The covid-19 pandemic has brought more miseries to the community since most of them used to work in the unorganized sector. Now due to lockdowns most of them have lost their jobs forcing them to live on charity while hunger and poverty loom over the community, the refugee camps are cramped and the spread of virus is inevitable they say since their makeshift shanties lean on each other with no sanitation food support or healthcare since they are not included in the government support programs.

Most of them work as daily wage workers or scrap collectors to make a living but the government restrictions and lockdown has left many out of work. Now the community is struggling on their own to survive both the virus and hunger.

Minority Rohingya Muslims have for decades fled to neighboring Bangladesh and other countries, including India escaping genocide in their country. Estimates suggest some 40,000 Rohingya refugees are living across different Indian states. In recent years the destitute community becomes victims of a vicious anti Rohingya campaign calling for their expulsion from India.

In recent weeks, dozens of these refugees including children developed Covid like symptoms but due to lack of testing facilities and shortage of vaccines, they are on their own. Most of them had to resort to home remedies and self quarantine. Many however fear if they don't get access to medicine and vaccine, a humanitarian disaster awaits their community.

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