Din Mohammad is doing everything possible in his power to keep his family and fellow Rohingya refugees healthy during a three-week lockdown enforced by the Indian government to fight the coronavirus. For the past week, Mohammad, 59, who lives with his wife and five children in Madanpur Khadar refugee camp in the capital, New Delhi, makes rounds of shanties to ensure people are maintaining social distancing and keeping their huts made from wood and plastic sheets clean. But he knows these measures are hard to implement in crowded refugee camps like theirs, where people live in cramped conditions lacking
basic facilities like toilets and clean water. “We are literally sitting on a powder keg,” Mohammad told AlJazeera. “It won’t take long before it explodes.” Nearly 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees living in various
refugee camps across the country fear that a humanitarian catastrophe looms large over them, as they have been left to fight the coronavirus pandemic alone. Last Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the strict lockdown for India’s 1.3 billon people to prevent the spread of the virus that has killed more than 30,000 worldwide. But the move has turned into a human tragedy, with tens of thousands of migrant workers fleeing cities, many of them forced to walk hundreds of kilometres to reach their homes,
following the shutdown of businesses and factories. Critics have accused the government of rushing with the lockdown without a proper plan. The South Asian nation has recorded 1,000 COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths so far. About 100km (62 miles) south of the capital, nearly 400 Rohingya families live in a refugee
camp in Ward No 7 of Haryana’s Nuh district. For them, having soap is a luxury, let alone buying facemasks and sanitisers.