COVID-19: Rohingya Refugees in India Are Battling Islamophobia and Starvation

Nearly all Rohingya refugees living in various refugee camps across the country have been left to fight the coronavirus pandemic on their own. The strict lockdown for India’s 1.3 billon people to prevent the spread of the virus has turned into a human tragedy for many, particularly the migrant workers, daily wage earners, street vendors and several others whose survival depends on their daily earnings. 

Most of the social protection packages announced by governments to feed and pay the working class daily wagers have no provisions for non-citizens. Even the Delhi government’s alternative livelihood assistance of Rs 5,000 for migrant workers does not include the Rohingya who are seen as ‘illegal migrants’. As a result, 18,000 Rohingya refugees living in India are facing a very uncertain future and situation of starvation.

In recent times, Rohingya refugees have become highly visible due to the vicious campaign launched by the BJP and its Hindu right wing partners calling the Muslims “Corona Bomb”. This started after TV9 Bharatvarsh, a free to air TV news channel, began broadcasting a so-called investigative report linking the Rohingya refugees with the Tablighi Jamaat congregation.

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