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Date, Venue & Participants:
On February 23rd, 2020, Al-Falah Bangladesh & Council of Minorities (CoM) hosted a Community advocacy meeting at BLS High School Mirpur Section-11 Dhaka. A total number of 35 participants including 5 female and 30 male from fifteen camps of Mirpur Dhaka attended the meeting.
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 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. Imran Khan the president of Urdu Speaking People’s Youth and Student Movement USPYSM. He has briefly described about USPYSM 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 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 brainstorm the strong recommendations against the camp and community problems in the meeting.
Discussions have been started with Mr. Mohammad Raju a resident of Kurmitola Camp Section-12 said, “Living in the camp is a sin” our problem are uncountable. Our problems start form morning as using the community unhealthy toilet. Our camp population is 100 times higher than the toilets are in number. Every day we are using unhealthy toilets which cause we are infecting in several disease.
Mr. Sharif a young students and resident of Mirpur Section-11 said, we are Bangladeshi citizens according to the high court verdict but our citizenship is without benefit, we just voter not equal citizen like other citizen of Bangladesh. Our problems are many but now we are facing major problems of electricity cut off and camp eviction. We are passing our day in the threat of camp eviction and cut off electricity.
Mr. Jamil a resident of Kashmiri Mohalla Camp Mirpur-11 said, our camp condition is day by day going to worst. Population is increasing but land or space is not increasing so that all the camps are much crowded. The sewerage systems are completely damaged most of time sewerage overflow and dirty water comes out the lane and road. It is more difficult during the rainy session because of heavy rain it’s become flooded everywhere.
Miss. Nazneen Akter a young resident of Talab Camp Mirpur-11 described the housing problem is one of the most vibrant problem for camp dwellers. Our houses are tiny and we are staying 8 to 10 people in each family. I believe, only rehabilitation is only way to resolve our all issues and problems if rehabilitation will be happened.
Mr. Faisal Ahmed a resident of Rahmat Camp said, now a day’s our most burning problem is drug selling inside the camp. Our youth are selling drug and for that every night we are passing night in the treat of police harassment. Drug sellers are very strong inside the camp and even they have good connection with law enforcing authority so that they are always safe from police harassment and arresting. Always innocent camp dwellers are arresting by the police. Not only camp youth are involve to selling drug but also local drug mafia are involve and selling drug inside the camp.
After the participants open discussion Mr. Sadakat Khan Fakku, President of Urdu Speaking People’s Youth Rehabilitation Movement USPYRM delivers his speech and said, currently we are facing two major problems in Mirpur Camps that’s are camp eviction and cut off electricity. In Mirpur we have 39 Camps in section 10, 11 & 12 and all camps are in the treat of eviction. Already 3 camps have been evicted by the City Corporation and national housing authority. Every day camp dwellers are in the risk of camp eviction. We have field a writ petition in High court in 2000. In 2016 high court has declared a verdict that designated camp will be not evicted but undesignated camp can be evicted by the city corporation. Here court did not clear that which camps are designated or which are not. Since 1972 when the camps have been established we are using free electricity and Bangladesh government paid the electricity bill to desko power supply authority. However, now power supply authority cut off our power supply due to due bill of electricity. We have filed another writ petition in high court to restore our power connection. All the time power supply authority issue a letter regarding the cut off our power connection. We need urgent help from the government to resolve our two most burning issue. In this regards i am requesting to all NGOs are partners please help the camp dwellers to resolve the issues as soon as.
During our open discussion camp residents identified some most vibrant problem which they are facing in their daily life. Problems are as below:
|Adequate Housing||· Camps are small in size but a large number of Camp dwellers are living
|· Construction of existing house
· Permanent rehabilitation with dignity
|Toilet & Latrine||· Large population and less toilets
· Lack of proper maintenance
|· Construction of the toilets
· Increase the number of new toilets
|Sewerage and drainage||· Sewerage lines are disconnect
· Drainage are open and overflowed
|· Construction of the sewerage line and drainage|
|Cut off electricity||· Overuse of electricity
· Using without pay
|· Government should provide some subsidiary on electricity bill
· Stop load shedding