HYDERABAD: Of the 3,800 Rohingya refugees living in Balapur, 1,492 are children, which makes for 50 per cent of the total population. The highest number, 592, falls in the under five category. This clearly implies that for a majority of these children in the cluttered and congested Balapur settlement, the only home they know of, there are limited resources in place for their care, protection and education.
This, despite, India being one of the signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, which makes entitlements accessible to children.
Institutional deliveries began only in Jan 2017, and a total of 12 have been recorded till June. This, many say, is the root cause of all the problems. “None of the children have birth certificates and this prevents them from accessing education. We have been pushing the parents to get it done so that they can enrol the kids in schools,” said Mumtaz Fatima, cluster coordinator with Save the Children which started an intervention in the settlement in July 2016.
While most of the older children choose to go to Madarsas, around a 100 of them have been mainstreamed into regular schools this year. Under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, children in age group of 6-14 were admitted to semi-residential school where they are taught the local language. “They provide three meals a day, which is a bonus as parents, where the average family size is nine, cannot provide enough for all,” pointed Mohammed Asif, project coordinator from the NGO.
Take for instance the case of 50-year-old Roshan Begum. Her youngest child is one-and-half months old. The family, comprising her husband and nine other children, survives on charity and meager income from her segregating scrap in the area. Geographically, Balapur lies on border of Rangareddy and Hyderabad, and in Oct 2016, Rangareddy collector initiated ICDS services for children under six.
Though there is no anganwadi centre, the mothers have the option of take-home ration, which is also limited. Slowly, more children are being integrated, according to the NGO.
Lack of drainage system is another major drawback and adding on is poor hygiene among community members who store the garbage they collect, right outside their homes. “It has just come under GHMC wing and a drainage system is in the pipeline. We constantly keep reinforcing the need to keep surroundings clean,” said Mumtaz.