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21 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 21 August, 2019 01:02:10 AM
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kashmir crisis

No phones, no friends: Cut-off Kashmir children despair in lockdown

Pakistan to take Kashmir dispute with India to ICJ
AFP, Srinagar

In a tiny building in a cramped narrow lane in Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, Mohammad Saleem and his family feel cut off from the world and trapped in their home as an Indian military lockdown enters its third week. New Delhi imposed the strict movement and communications clampdown hours before stripping the restive Himalayan region of its autonomy on August 5, in a bid to quell any unrest triggered by the controversial move. The security measures have exacted a toll on the valley's children, who are going stir-crazy from the isolation and lack of communication with friends.

"I can't study, connect with any of my friends and can't even go out because of all these restrictions," Saleem's 13-year-old son Shayan told AFP. "I really miss going to school. We used to play a lot there. We have been sitting at one place now, what do we do here?" Father-of-three Saleem said his younger daughter moved to live with her grandmother as she was "feeling caged", pointing to a small hall in the first floor of his home where the family have spent most of their time.

Indian authorities re-opened schools in some parts of Kashmir on Monday, but classrooms were largely empty with parents keeping their children at home.

With mobile phone networks still down and only some landlines in operation, families don't want to be separated from their offspring without being able to check on them. One parent fretting about his children's studies is local businessman

the needs were massive. “I returned as project coordinator that August, as hundreds of thousands more people arrived. It was obvious the Rohingyas were fleeing violence - in one two-week period between August and September 2017, we watched pillars of smoke, most likely from houses and villages being burned, at several points across the border.”

At the border crossings, he said, they saw Rohingyas arriving with burns, gunshots, lacerations, and smoke asphyxiation. “The trauma was visible on people’s faces and bodies.”

To date, no meaningful solutions have been offered to the Rohingyas, who have been pushed to the margins of society in virtually all the countries they have fled to.

In Bangladesh, over 912,000 Rohingyas still live in the same basic bamboo structures as when they first arrived, face travel and work restrictions, and remain wholly reliant on humanitarian aid, MSF said.

With children unable to attend formal schooling, future generations are deprived of an opportunity to improve their situation.

Many of the illnesses MSF treats at its clinics in Cox’s Bazar are a result of the poor living conditions that the Rohingya endure, with poor access to clean latrines or water.

MSF continues to treat tens of thousands of patients a month, performing over 1.3 million consultations between August 2017 and June 2019.

“Two years on, there’re now better roads, more latrines and clean water points in and around the camps. There’s more sense of order. But conditions in the camps remain precarious and big questions about people’s futures are still unanswered,” says Jegan.

The situation facing the Rohingyas still in Myanmar is similarly bleak. In 1982, a citizenship law rendered them effectively stateless, and in recent years they have been stripped of even more of their rights, ranging from civic inclusion, the right to education, marriage, family planning, to freedom of movement and access to healthcare.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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