Lives of ‘People of nowhere’


Rohingya’s are considered the most persecuted community in the world. Although, they consider themselves as indigenous of the Rakhine state in Myanmar, the government refuted their claim in 1982, making them stateless, without any rights to citizenship. Lacking basic human rights, Rohingya community have been flocking to different neighbouring countries in dingy boats since the start of the century. However life has not easy for those settled in host countries. Mostly living in make shift camp- sanitation, healthcare, education and employment are the main problems, they face. About 14,000 recorded Rohingya refugees are settled across different parts of India, including Jammu, Nuh, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Chennai, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This photo montage, records the lives of Rohingya camps in different pockets of Delhi.

Living in a close knit community, they are generally scared to move around, fearing harassment from police. For those who do not have a UN refugee card, they are mostly dependent upon different NGO and help from UN for food and clothing. Some who venture out of the camps get contractual work, on a daily basis.

Some refugees say, “Language is a big issue, no one wants to give us job in India, because they do not trust us, and we can’t communicate.” Being from a conservative background, Rohingya’s do not allow their female counterparts to work alone, leaving the single mothers at the mercy of their neighbours. An UN associated social worker says, “Even when we come and give them vocational training in their camps, they refuse to join, gender bias is deep-rooted, and the women in the community are extremely shy, especially towards strangers.”

Fear of fire during summers and infection among children due to unsanitary conditions of living is a recurrent problem. Despite all the difficulties that the refugees brave on a daily basis, they are happy to live in a country, without the fear for their life. While many have their legal UN refugee cards, most of them do not have it, giving them little scope of work and other benefits. Some claim, that the rules for the UN refugee status are extremely stringent, and cumbersome. It requires address proofs, paper work, and photo Ids, which the refugees are not able to provide most of the time.

Many still wait for their family and friends detained by border police to come and join them. Others have got used to the life in camps. Going to school, speaking in English, some children who have grown-up in these squalors are now becoming the spokesperson for their community.

While the world is battling the refugee crisis, these ‘people of nowhere’ should not be averted.

(This montage is curated and developed by Senior Deputy Editor Deepanwita De)