About 7,000 children from the Bru-Raeng community in North Tripura have never been to school and they are living in makeshift camps that lack basic facilities of healthcare and hygenic living conditions, according to child rights body NCPCR.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights conducted a survey to understand the living conditions of children in the camps and devise a pathway for repatriation and rehabilitation of the Bru-Reang tribe to Mizoram.
The Bru-Reang tribe were displaced from Mizoram following an ethnic riot with the Mizos in 1997 and were given shelter in makeshift camps in north Tripura. Their number originally swelled to 50,000, but came down to 29,000 after a section of them returned to their villages in Mizoram.
According to Priyank Kannongo, Member Education NCPCR, the biggest issue for these people living in the camps is that they have no aspirations and nothing to look forward to.
"The concept of education is alien to these children and they are not aware of what schools are," said Kannongo.
The majority of education institutions in and nearby the camps lack basic infrastructure, he said.
"About 25 per cent of the interviewed education volunteers are not qualified as per the norms of the Right To Education Act 2009. And almost 34 per cent of the respondents said that the medium of instruction in the institutions is not their mother tongue," according to the NCPCR in a report.
In terms of healthcare, only two Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are functional and available for the total population of the community living in all six camps of North Tripura.
A majority of the respondent neither benefitted with any health camps, nor received any subsidised medicine from the authorities, the NCPCR said in the report.
Families living in the camps do not have access to basic necessities of life such as clean drinking water, sanitation facilities and electricity, it said.
"Only 12 per cent of the population has vocational skill and the majority of people are working as daily labourers or relying on forests for their livelihood," said Kannongo.
Also, the residents of the camps are not receiving any benefits of various state subsidised schemes and programmes, including Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREGA), he said.
"Several members of the community do not have proper identification documents such as Aadhar Card, Voter Id Card, Birth Certificate etc. due to which they face various problems in their daily lives and in accessing financial and banking services," he added.
The report made recommendations to governments of Mizoram and Tripura on a variety of parameters to inculcate aspiration in the community and asked the states to take steps to rehabilitate the community back in their home, where they would have a sense of belonging, Kannongo said.
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