Refugees denied basic facilities

Nepali and Bangladeshi refugees and their children staying in Delhi are denied basic facilities like education due to lack of identity cards, organisations working with refugees told a national consultation on migrant and refugee children in India.

“Nepali workers and their families are allowed to enter and move freely in India without a visa. According to rough estimates, nearly three million people are migrant workers from Nepal, but the actual number is much higher,” Rajendra Ghimire  from the Forum for People’s Rights in Kathmandu.

“Children get fake age documents to work in India and they mostly come to the metros such as Delhi and Mumbai.” 

Ghimire added his organisation discovered in a recent study that over 17,000 children came to India in a span of three months but only 8,000 children returned to Nepal.
Most children travel without documents and end up in jails or engage in rag picking, factory work, prostitution and even petty crimes to earn their living.

Tikaram Pokrel from the Nepali Migrant Association, Delhi, pointed out that children do not get access to early childcare facilities and education in the city.

“Since they do not have appropriate ID proof, they are denied admission in government schools. Plus, they face language problems which is why they take up work at restaurants, factories and even face sexual abuse,” Pokrel said.
Trafficking is another major issue among girls and young women.

“Most of the women offer sex in exchange of smuggled products from countries we share our borders with. Children, especially from Bangl­adesh, are mostly caught on their way back from India and there are no rehabilitation facilities for them,” said Roop Sen from Sanjog in Kolkata.

“They are forced into different kinds of work and our people are discriminated by locals who say that we do not belong here as we were brought to India as slaves,” he said.

Mohammed Salim, another member of the Rohingya community highlighted that the identity cards provided by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) does not help children get admission in Delhi schools.

“Some of us try to teach children in groups in our language as they do not understand Hindi or English. But we want our children to have a better future,” he said.

Even Bangladeshi and Chin (Burmese) refugees face similar levels of discrimination. They are often caught by police whenever there is a crime in the area in which they live.

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