Famine-ravaged Hmars cry for help; Orgs calls for Govt's response

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Aizawl, Apr 23 (UNI) Manipur-based Tipaimukh Famine Relief Committee (TFRC) and Sinlung Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) today called for Government's immediate response to the Hmars' in Manipur, who have been affected by famine and epidemics.

While urging the Manipur Government to take immediate steps in this respect, the two Hmar bodies also pleaded them to aid the Hmar people on humanitarian grounds.

SIPHRO representative David Buhril informed the media here today that Mautam (bamboo flowering) has not only brought about acute food crisis but also epidemics, which has claimed lives of more than 20 children.

''Owing to the Manipur government's lackadaisical attitude, the people of this area have been facing the catastrophe as though they do not have a government,'' Mr Buhril alleged.

''Even though the (Manipur) government has sent a medical team, they were not of much help to the victims because they did not carry medicines with them,'' Mr Buhril lamented, adding that the doctors visited only some accessible parts and left out the worst-hit parts.

Domestic animals have also fallen prey to the yet-to-be ascertained epidemic disease, he said.

According to Mr Buhril, Mautam-related food shortage further resulted in child labour.

''A large number of children, most of them between 10-15 years of age, have left schools in search of food in the jungles,'' he highlighted, adding that they being left alone are also not aware of the centrally-sponsored famine aid.

Let alone failing to receive the centrally-sponsored famine aid, the people were not aware of such aids.

''The Manipur government has even sold rice procured with the NREGS fund to the people at Rs 25 per kg,'' Mr Buhril alleged.

The two organisations have made a 11-point demands to the Manipur and the Centre. Among others, they demanded declaration of the Tipaimukh, Thanlawn and Singat sub-divisions (in the hill district of Manipur) as famine area, provision of better medical facilities, installation of Public Distribution System, grain banks and godowns and repairing of the National Highway-150, which has remained un-repaired for the last 20 years.

UNI ZS LL PY AS1639

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