The Children Of Kandhamal
SAMPRADAYIK HINSA PRAPIDITA SANGHATHANA
(ASSOCIATION OF SURVIVORS OF KANDHAMAL COMMUNAL VIOLENCE)
At/Po- MundaSahi, Balliguda, Kandhamal, Ph-9438072385
Letter No- 112 Date: 07.09.10
To The Chief Minister,
Govt of Orissa,
Sub: For necessary measures to ensure rightful and adequate restoration and rehabilitation of the children affected due to communal violence in Kandhamal and other districts
We the undersigned members of “ASSOCIATION OF SURVIVORS OF KANDHAMAL COMMUNAL VIOLENCE” herewith present this memorandum for your kind attention and consideration expecting appropriate actions at your end to ensure rightful and adequate restoration and rehabilitation of the children affected due to the communal violence in Kandhamal and other districts.
Out of total affected people almost 36 percent were below 18 years, who have been both physically and psychologically broken because of two horrific violences in Kandhamal in 2007-08. Almost all the children from affected families flee to distant places to save their life and all those were continuing their studies had to drop their studies. While the most of them could come back to their villages, they are yet come over their trauma. Many children have migrated to other places are still to come back. The status of the affected children is not known to anybody. Even, the administration could not provide the statistics that how many children left their studies, how many children could not come back to their villages or schools, how many children became child labourers.
Over two years of the entire process of relief and rehabilitation after riots, Kandhamal's children remained silent spectators. They were totally left out of administrative or judicial decisions. Nobody asked their views; nor was their voices heard. No mental health services or programme were conducted for the children on the lines of the announcements by the district administration in the name of various programme, launched by the state government for the youth or children.
The administration must immediately give due emphasis on the situation of the children in Kandhamal and take steps urgently to do the following:
- Steps needs to be taken up by the appropriate authority to institute an independent and empowered committee to assess the status of children affected by violence in Kandhamal and other places of Orissa, t o identify and shortlist and to create a data base for the relief and rehabilitation .
- The Govt should undertake adequate and rightful measures fo r relief, rehabilitation and restoration programs to ensure the rights and interest of the children in the field of health, education, nutrious food and clothing in the lines of the human rights standards set at national and international level.
- There should be a monitoring body for the whole process of relief and rehabilitation, which should take cognizance of children and also ensure that the rights of the children are not violated in the process.
- Children voices are important to be heard, especially in the case of mass violence. Government should ensure the participation of children in the rehabilitation and post rehabilitation process of normalizing the situation.
- As maintained by UN guidelines and various judgements, specific guidelines must be followed strictly to protect the rights of children when s/he is testifying in front of law enforcement agencies or the judiciary.
- In any man made disaster situation such as communal or ethnic riots, children's education and then health are the first things to get affected. The administration must ensure adequate access to food and nutrition, clothing, shelter and education facilities. There should be education facilities in relief camps for school-going children as well as a separate place or tent in the camp to be used as study shall, especially for those who are appearing for examinations. Children should be helped in every way so that they don't have to drop a year or miss out on examinations.
- Special measures to address children's needs, especially of those who have lost one or both parents, should be incorporated in all relief and rehabilitation plans. A special compensation package for such children to help them continue their studies till the age of 18 is a must.
- Children should be provided trauma counseling services as well as other playful and creative activities to help them cope effectively, especially when they also lack family support. Without these, children may develop all kinds of psychological and behavioral problems, lose interest in education, suffer from depression, drug addiction, or other kinds of problem.
- Hygiene needs, especially of girls, are always found to be neglected in relief camps. Sanitary towels and toilets soaps for adolescent girls are a must.
- Regular, on-site health checkups are essential to prevent any major disease outbreak in the camp. Such checkups should continue at least for three months after the families have gone back to their homes or any other resettlement site.
- Special attention should be paid to the nutrition needs of children in the age group of 0-6 years and of adolescents. All children, irrespective of caste, community and religion, should be entitled to protection from any kind of exploitation in difficult situations.
- There should be a proper mechanism to create a database of the affected children, which can be used to develop care plans for children of different age groups. Government should have a list of services that can be availed by the children during or after the violence.
- Helpline services should be set up for children to should address the immediate needs of the children during and after the violence.
- The juvenile justice mechanism in Kandhamal is in shambles, whereas the need of the hour is to actually strictly implement the provisions of the Act to check proliferation of illegal activities involving children who are vulnerable, such as trafficking for child labour, sexual abuse and adoption. An action force to check such incidence as well as track people who are involved in such activities must be formed, which should continue to work for the medium term and also provide a feeling of security to the children and families.
- Special provisions for orphaned boys and girls are needed so as to recognise them as separate and independent units and enable them to receive entitlements to land and compensation money. They should not be merely absorbed into the family units that have temporary guardianship.
- The government should specially beef up the services and provisions already existing in the system and laws.
- Instead of trying to suppress facts and misleading the media, the local administration should ensure that the media in general and the electronic media in particular, strictly follow an ethical reporting code during any communal or ethnic violence. It should appeal to them not to telecast live incidents of violence, which are certain to create tension among the people and aggravate the sense of fear, especially among children, and cause lasting damage.
- Even after two years of the Kandhamal communal violence, there are places in the district where the tension and insecurity among minority still prevail, which make the children stay away from the schools and colleges. Discrimination on the basis of religion and caste is being encouraged by caste Hindus and fundamentalists. There are schools where a section of children are not allowed to sit and play together. Thus, the govt should take immediate action to ensure conducive atmosphere in schools and villages.
- Due to lack of livelihood option in the victim families, many children become the child labourer in many places like hotels, manual unskilled labours and so on, so the Govt should arrange some vocational and soft skill development training for the children above 16 years.
Bipra Charana Nayak