Reconciliation and Food
An Islamic Relief project has provided food supplies to 600 families whose lives have been turned upside-down by communal violence in India.
Dozens of people have died in the communal violence that began last year in the Uttar Pradesh districts of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Bhaghpat. Thousands of houses were looted and burned. Between 50,000 to 60,000 people fled their homes. Married couple Javed and Tasneem were amongst those displaced.
“We fled without changing our clothes, barefoot, leaving everything behind,” said Tasneem. “Everything was looted after we left, and then our house was burned down.”
A year later, some 9,000 people are still living in camps scattered around the area, whilst others have been taken in by friends or family. Many are struggling without even basic items such as clothing and blankets – and, with their livelihoods in ruins, are unable to earn a living.
Javed – an agricultural labourer – now struggles to find daily work. The family find it hard to meet their basic needs at Suneti Madarsa camp, but our six-month project provided some relief from acute food shortages.
Altogether, 623 families living in camps were supported by the scheme. Each family received a food parcel designed to last around a month. Flour, rice, dal, eggs and biscuits were amongst the items distributed by our local partner, the Centre for Equity Studies.
“The food relief that we received helped us save some [money] and made our family food-secure for several days” said Tasneem.
Pushing for lasting positive change
The scheme also helped push for lasting positive change in the area. As part of an advocacy forum that engages directly with government, we worked to tackle the root causes of poverty and suffering.
The forum brings together civil society organisations to advocate for better services for those affected by the violence and to secure peace and promote reconciliation.
By the time the project ended last month, around 450 children had been helped to enrol at school – overcoming barriers that were preventing them from joining schools near the camps. Local authorities had been lobbied to increase the number of primary classrooms and work to launch an integrated child development scheme has also begun.
In addition, six community meetings had been held, bringing together Muslims and other communities to engage in dialogue around peace-building.
Islamic Relief has been helping vulnerable communities in India for two decades, with a range of relief and development projects.