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National panel appalled at refugee children's plight in North-East

September 10, 2008 19:37 IST
The visiting team of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights led by its chairperson Dr Shantha Sinha has been appalled by the plight of refugee children lodged in camps inhabited by thousands of riot-hit refugees in western Assam.

The team of the NCPCR which visited Assam, Manipur and Tripura during the last few days, has underlined the need for separate state-specific policies for Northeastern states where children stand vulnerable to conflict situation, HIV-AIDS.

The commission's members who held pubic hearings in two of the refugees camps in western Assam, drew attention of Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi to the lack of healthcare facility, education, sanitation and immunization for refugee children in those camps and requested him to make those camps part of the larger administration so that government services reach those inmates.

The commission members expressed grave concern over alleged rampant trafficking of girl children along with their young but poverty-stricken mothers from those refugee camps where thousands of people displaced by the infamous ethnic riots of 1996 are being housed. There are a large number of children who are born and brought up in those dingy refugee camps.

The 1996 ethnic flare-up in western districts of Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon in Assam had left over 2.5 lakh people including over 75,000 children homeless. Out of those children about 150 had lost both the parents in the worst ever ethnic violence between the Bodo tribe and the Bengali-speaking Muslims in those areas.

The NCPCR also found out the adverse HIV-AIDS scenario in Manipur is threatening the child security in the state and asked for urgent attention of the government in tackling the situation to safeguard the children.

After assessing the situation related to protection of child rights in the states of Assam, Tripura and Manipur the members of the NCPCR have recommended that the states appoint a nodal officer under the respective state social welfare departments to ensure the protection of child rights.

The commission will also issue guidelines for these states on how to go about the child rights protection and will ask for action taken report within 40 days.

K Anurag in Guwahati