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Date, Venue & Participants:
On July 18th, 2020, Al-Falah Bangladesh & Council of Minorities (CoM) hosted a Community advocacy meeting at Balumat Community Centre, Camp number 1 ward number 12 Khalishpur Khulna. A total number of 20 participants including 4 female and 14 male from 4 Camps of Khalishpur attended the meeting.

Covid-19 protection:
Since March 2020 we are facing challenges to organize meeting due to Corona virus. As it is global pandemic we have maintained all health safety protection before during and after meeting. We have sanitized the meeting hall including chairs and tables. We have checked body temperature of the participants and after that we have sanitized hand and body of the participants and provided hand sanitizer, gloves, mask and hair cap to each participants. Also we have maintained 3 feet social distance in the meeting room and after the meeting one by one participant leaves the room to protect himself herself and others.

Project overview:
The project “Empowerment and inclusion of Urdu Speaking Bangladeshis in the main stream society” is focusing on effective citizenship within The Bihari camp communities. Following a 2008 high court decision, Biharis are recognized as citizens and most of all have obtained national ID cards, which provide the basic proof of citizenship. The aim of the project is empowerment of the community based organization CBO and organized series of advocacy, community dialogue and round table on effective citizenship and inclusion in the main stream society of Bangladesh.

Objective of the meeting:
The purpose of the meeting was to identify the exiting problems inside the camps and community in Khulna and way forward to the rehabilitation with dignity. The recommendations identified in this meeting would be the basis of future community dialogue, round table and media advocacy discussion.

The meeting opened with an introductory speech made by Mr. Md. Shabuddin the president of Bangladeshis Urdu Speaking Rehabilitation Movement, Khulna. He has briefly described about BUSRM and the partnership with Al-Falah Bangladesh and Council of Minorities in this project and he has introduced Khalid Hussain as project lead of the project “Empowerment and inclusion of Urdu Speaking Bangladeshis in the main stream society”. Following his introductory speech, project lead, Khalid Hussain has welcomed to all members of the community and community leaders. Hussain briefly described about the project, legal and socio economical condition of the camp based Bihari- Urdu Speaking Bangladeshis. After that he has opened the existing major camp and community problems in the floor and engaged the participants to high light and discusses the camp and community problems and find out the possible way to resolve the issues and problems and also brainstorm the strong recommendations against the camp and community problems.

Open Discussion:
Discussions have been started with Miss. Runa a resident of Camp # 1 Khalishpur Khulna said that “we are Bihari and living in Camp so that we are neglected to get jobs” when we mention our address then people think that we are not Bangladeshi.

A middle age women Ms. Nasima Begum a resident of Camp # 7 Khalishpur said” Jute Mills have been closed and we lost our jobs.” It is difficult for us to survive with a large family member without any earning source.

Mr. Md. Sunny, Secretary of Camp management Committee of Camp # 1 and a resident of Camp #1 said, “We have so many problems inside the camps in khalishpur however most vibrant problems are housing, water sanitation and education. We are living in a small hose along with all family members where no any privacy between parents and children. In every camp dwellers are facing drinking water problem, we have water tab and tub well boy no water inside. Our kids are dropping out from school because kids are working as child labour and helping their family.

Mohammad Imran, Secretary of Camp Management Committee, Baitul Falah Camp Khalishpur said, we have so many problems including housing, sanitation and drainage system, unemployment, and Education. Since 40 years we are living in camps there are no any changes in our living condition. Our water sanitation system is very worse, we do not have safe drinking water and drainage system is also worse during rainy session our camp flooded and become middy. Due to poverty our kids are not getting proper education and they are dropping out from school after primary level.

Mrs. Sairun a resident of Camp # 1 said” we women are more vulnerable than men; we are dependent on our male members. We have to earn our self. We know hand craft work if  we will get opportunity for hand craft work we can earn money and support our family. Some NGOs started handicraft work but now it is stopped. In our camp child marriage has been stopped and now parents are willing to send their kids in school. We need more support in education and women development activities.

Mr. Mohammad Ali, President of Camp Management Committee Camp # 3 and a resident of Camp # 3 said” we are neglected community in Bangladesh” we are passing our life inside in human camp. Our houses are almost damaged immediately need to construction of our house. Most of NGOs are working on education and sanitation but no any NGO is working on permanent solution. Permanent solution is rehabilitation and only rehabilitation is the solution to come out from all kinds of poverty and discrimination. He also added, government can build multi storied building within the camp area and that can be a easy and small instalment government can charge to the camp dwellers. We want our rehabilitation with our livelihood facilities, we don’t want to rehabilitate in village area because we all camp dwellers are urban based we don’t know farming we are semi skill community and our earning source are in urban based.

After the participants open discussion Ms. Parveen Akther Councillor ward number 11, 12 & 13 numbers ward of Khalishpur Khulna deliver her speech. She said “I don’t believe on Bihari and Bengali we all are equal citizens of Bangladesh. Now all the Biharis our citizens and you have believe on that you are the part of this country. Here i want to request to the organizers please help them and try to install a deep tub well. She also said our present government is very much willing for their permanent rehabilitation and i believe we will be able to mobilize our city Mayor and city Mayor will discuss the matter to our government. My massage to the camp dwellers, please send your child to school and try to complete your children education, only education can help you to come out from the poverty.

Problems Identified:
During our open discussion camp residents identified some most vibrant problem which they are facing in their daily life. Problems are as below:

Problem Cause Demand
Lack of adequate Housing ·      Since 1972 after the independent of Bangladesh they are living in 8-10 feet house with large family member

·      Camps are small in size but a large number of Camp dwellers are living

·      There are no any government initiative to resolve the housing problem of the Camp dwellers

·      Construction of existing house and lane of the camps

·      Permanent rehabilitation inside the camp

·      Construction multi storied building inside the camp

Water Sanitation ·      Tub well and water channel are inactive

·      Sewerage and drainage are damage

·      Install deep tub well

·      Construction of the sewerage and drainage

Quality Education ·      Camp dwellers are living in the poverty line so that it is quite impossible to bear education expenses for their kids

·      Due to child labour kids are dropout after primary level

·      Due to economy crisis  camp students can’t afford coaching and extra tutorial class

·      Establish a tutorial or coaching centre inside the camps

·      Provide educational scholarship

·      Provide educational quota for the camp students

Unemployment ·      Most of camp dwellers were worked in the jute mills in Khulna but now jute mills are closed

·      Camp graduates are unemployed due to lack of professional education


·      Provide soft loan without interest

·      Develop small entrepreneur scheme for the camp youth


Follow-up Advocacy Actions:

A bottom up approach is needed to influence the policy makers. This includes:

  • Community dialogue
  • Roundtable meeting with lawmakers and civil society groups
  • Draft a policy brief
  • Media advocacy with print and electronic media
  • A memorandum can be prepared to be sent to the national and international development partners