Last year, during the dengue and chikungunya season, 50 residents fell ill, which broke the back of many families
It has been five years since over 1,00,000 Rohingyas, a Muslim community from Rakhine in Myanmar, had to flee persecution in their country and take refuge in other South Asian countries. This wave of exodus brought 48 Rohingya families to Delhi, who now live in a small, makeshift settlement, named Darul Hijrat camp, near the Kalindi Kunj bridge in extremely poor conditions.
Last year, another calamity befell these families. As many as 50 people contracted dengue or chikungunya in the camp. Most residents work as daily wagers and earn Rs 150-200 per day. With little help from the government or the UNHCR, the added expenditure of medicines broke the back of many a families.
The mere memory of that time is enough to make the camp residents dread the coming months — the disease season of the year.
“Women and children were most affected as they spend more time in the camp, while men go out to work,” said Ali Johar, a Rohingya, who works as a UNHCR health volunteer. “Every day, from 6 pm till next morning, you cannot even stand outside because of the mosquitoes. There are several open drains nearby, making the area a hotbed for mosquitoes and flies,”he further said.
Of the total 226 people living in the camp, 95 are kids, with 50 of them are below five years of age. These children are much more prone to these vector-borne diseases as they spend their entire time in the camp and are also quite undernourished.
“The UNHCR has granted us refugee cards. We can use them to get a check-up done at government hospitals. But most of the time, we do not have Rs 100-200 to commute to the hospital,” Mohammed Ismail, a Rohingya daily wager, said. He came to the city three years ago.
“We do not get any free medicines from the agency, except for the generic ones. Even for those, we have to wait for days,”Ismail added.
No safe haven
Rohingya displacement made headlines in October 2016 when attacks on border posts in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine province triggered a security clearance operation that drove an estimated 43,000 civilians to Bangladesh
UNHCR’s latest report on mixed movements in south-east Asia indicates that more than 1,68,000 Rohingya members could have fled Myanmar in the last five years