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Life of a Rohingya in harsh valley winter

January 27, 2018

Srinagar, Jan 26: Migrating to Kashmir has not brought a relief to the Rohingya refugees, as the bone chilling cold and scarcity of basic facilities has made life tougher for them.
Staying in three concrete buildings on rent at Khimber, at least 11 families of Rohingya refugees live without water or electricity.
Earlier this month, the electricity connection to these rented building was snapped.
“The lineman came and snapped the electricity to these buildings on the pretext of not being registered with the department,” Anayatuallah, a refugee, said.
It added to their woes, as these refugees coming from warmer regions are not used to cold.
“We are experiencing subzero temperatures for the first time. The lack of abundant clothes and blankets makes it even challenging for us,” Anayatullah said.
The refugees said that majority of them have fallen ill during winter, particularly elderly and children.
“Diseases like cold and cough is common among us now. Majority of our elderly people complain of bone-related ailments, as we sleep and sit on concrete floor here,” Anayatullah said.
At least, 18 displaced Rohingyas immigrated to Kashmir from Jammu last year and rented three buildings at Rs 2,000 per room.
Seven of them went to Jammu for winter to escape the harsh weather in the valley.
The refugee families said they had to learn using Kangri, a traditional fire pot, and Pheran, a Kashmiri cloak, to keep warm.
“Initially, we struggled to use it and our clothes would often burn. But now, every family has at least one Kangri to survive this unbearable chill,” Osman, also a refugee, said.
Among them, the children are the worst sufferers, who fail to beat the chill.
“The locals donated these clothes while some were bought from the markets. Our hands and feet get cold during evenings and mornings,” Ibrahim Khaleel, a five-year-old boy, said.
The Rohingya refugees claim that lack of drinking water was equally affecting them.
“We have a pond nearby, but the water there is unclean. We use that for washing clothes. For drinking water, we have to walk all the way to the Madrassa,” a refugee woman said.
The refugees said they can’t complain about the lack of facilities, fearing the threat of their evacuation from the area.
“The building is a new one and it hadn’t the facility of power and water. When it is not registered with the department there is no reason to complain about it,” Haroon Rashid, an elderly Rohingya refugee, said.

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