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“Some of us will die”: India’s homeless stranded by coronavirus lockdown

Posted by Administrator_India

By Administrator_India

Capital Sands

In a densely packed neighborhood of Delhi, hundreds of homeless people queued up this week as volunteers doled out rice and peas from a vat in the back of a van.

Only a handful of the people in the crowd wore masks. There were no hand sanitizers or washbasins in sight and no social distancing.

Volunteers say such scenes are playing out daily across India, as laborers and waste pickers – most of them homeless or too poor to afford a meal – are among the hardest hit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-week nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Most of the estimated 4 million-plus homeless people in India have had no way of earning a living since the lockdown began on March 25. With streets deserted, even begging is not an option.

Many wander aimlessly, some find refuge at homeless shelters where ranks of people sleep beside each other.

While the plight of India’s migrant workers has garnered headlines, with thousands forced to walk miles to reach home since the lockdown began, many aid workers say the millions of homeless in India face a bigger risk.

Officials say the shutdown is necessary to stem the spread of the coronavirus. India has reported more than 1,500 cases and 38 deaths from the outbreak.

But rights groups have criticized the government over what they say has been inadequate planning ahead of the lockdown.

“You cannot impose such drastic measures on a population the size of India all of a sudden, Said by the source.

“In shelters, we face serious challenges such as the lack of adequate space and sanitation,” she said. “If one person in a shelter gets infected, it’s going to be very hard to control its spread.”

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