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Migrant workers need social protection to overcome trauma in lockdown: Health Ministry

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New Delhi, Apr 01: The Health Ministry on Wednesday called for providing a social protection to migrant workers, saying they are prone to social, psychological and emotional trauma in lockdown situations. Immediate concerns faced by such migrant workers relate to food, shelter, healthcare, fear of getting infected or spreading the infection, loss of wages, concerns about the family, anxiety and fear.

"Sometimes, they also face harassment and negative reactions of the local community. All this calls for strong social protection," the ministry said in a document. It further said that migrant workers faced with the situation of spending a few days in temporary shelters, which may be quarantine centres, while trying to reach to their native places, are filled with anxieties and fears stemming from various concerns, and are in need of psycho-social support.

Migrant workers need social protection to overcome trauma in lockdown: Health Ministry

As part of such support the ministry listed some measures which include treating every migrant worker with dignity, respect, empathy and compassion, recognising specific and varied needs for each person/family and helping them to acknowledge that this is an unusual situation of uncertainty and reassure them that the situation is transient and not going to last long. Normal life is going to resume soon.

Emphasise on the importance of their staying in their present location and how mass movement could greatly and adversely affect all efforts to contain the virus, the ministry said. It also said that they should be made to realise their importance in the community and appreciate their contributions to the society.

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"Remind them that they have made their place with their own efforts, acquired the trust of their employer, sent remittances to their families and therefor deserve all respect. "Reassure that even if their employer fails them, local administration and charitable institutions would extend all possible help," the ministry said.

The document stated that out of desperation, many may react in a manner which may appear "insulting" but calls for understanding their issues and staying patient with them. "Remind them that it is safer for their families if they themselves stay away from them. Instead of reflecting any mercy, seek their support in the spirit of winning over the situation together," the ministry said. The document stated during outbreak of communicable diseases, such a COVID-19, and the restrictions imposed on routine activities as part of social distancing norms to prevent the spread of the disease, scores of migrant workers tend to move back to their native places.

During the prevailing COVID pandemic also, many migrant workers used all possible means to reach their destinations. Many of them are, however, stuck at borders, including state, district and at national border areas. "These are the most marginalized sections of the society who are dependent on daily wages for their living, and in times of such distress need sympathy and understanding of the society."

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