Rohingya refugees seeking work in Kushadevi

Banepa, January 1

Karan Happis, a Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar, works as a mason at a construction site in Kushadevi.

He said he has started working at a house construction site close to the place where 10 other Rohingya refugee families live. He gets Rs 600 to 700 per day as wage. They started living here one month back.

The 34 male members of these families have been looking for work to earn their daily livelihood. These families have also started constructing temporary shelters at Kushadevi of Panauti Municipality-3 as more refugee families are expected to join them. But they demolished the sheds after more families did not arrive.

According to Noor Happis, they had constructed 21 shelters but demolished nine of them since the other refugee families that were supposed to join them did not arrive. The 10 families are using the remaining shelters.

He said the rent of the shelters has not been decided as yet. “We came here searching for work. We earn our livelihood working as daily wage labourers. We have to manage our food and accommodation with whatever we earn as wage labourers,” he said.

Of the 34 individuals from the 10 families, 13 are minors and people above 55 years.

Noor said that they get Rs 12,000 a year after admitting one child to school. He said although in the beginning they all got the money from the UN, now the money is given only to children admitted to school citing lack of funds. He said that because they had to migrate from place to place in search of work, they had not been able to admit their children to local schools.

He added that they are talking to the school teachers regarding admitting their children to schools in the locality and would do so after they get work at Kushadevi. He said the women of the families performed household chores and looked after the children.

Mohammat Asup, another member in the group, confidently said they had no bad intentions towards others and urged the local community not to doubt them.

He said empty stomachs had brought them here in hope of finding work. According to him, they were living on the charity of the United Nations, but now it had stopped.

“Earlier, the United Nations was providing us monetary help, but it stopped and in this situation, there was no means for survival,’’ he said. “We are not causing any sort of inconveniences to anyone else,” he went on to say, seeking help so that they could find work for their livelihood.

He explained he had arrived here with his family following expulsion from Myanmar.

The families are living on land owned by Satyaram Thapa, a local. “When we saw the land was unoccupied, we requested the owner to give it on rent, but issues related to the charge and duration of our stay have not been negotiated yet.”

Panauti Municipality Ward No 3 Chair Ishwor Thapa said the Rohingya families had arrived in Kushadevi in search of work. Thirty-four people of 10 families arrived here from Kapan, Kathmandu, and have been residing here for around a month. Locals are suspicious of new faces in the locality, according to him.