Survival code: refugees cut spending on hygiene to buy food during pandemic

India hosts at least 1.95 lakh of refugees, mainly from Sri Lanka, China, Myanmar and Afghanistan, according to UNHCR. (Photo: Reuters / for the Representation)

At a time when most of us were buying or even stocking hygiene items to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, refugees, on the other hand, have had to lower their guard against the virus and cut spending on these items. Last year. The reason is very basic to save money to buy food.

“To cope with the economic challenges during the pandemic, refugees are increasingly relying on coping strategies,” said the South Asia Economic Focus Report by the World Bank. All households surveyed in South Asia have engaged in one or more negative coping strategies to meet their basic needs, the report added.

Of these, reducing spending on hygiene items was the most common strategy. Take new loans, skip rents, prevent children from going to school, sell livelihoods, etc. were other ways for refugees to survive the pandemic.

India hosts at least 1.95 lakh of refugees, mostly from Sri Lanka, China, Myanmar and Afghanistan, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Many of them lack a secure legal status and find themselves excluded from the protective responsibility of states, as existing international law protecting refugees has not been ratified in India.

The pandemic came at a time when refugees were already rocked by political turmoil. And it has further exacerbated the already fragile poverty situation of refugees who often work in low-wage informal jobs, have limited human rights and have little or no savings. The lack of funding for humanitarian organizations in recent years has also increased the struggle of refugees to cover basic needs.

READ ALSO: More than 12,000 refugees cross Mizoram following military action in Myanmar

As the pandemic appears to have lost its sting and the proportion of the vaccinated population has risen rapidly in India, the economic headwind has also died down. However, the pain of refugees may take longer to subside.

While high food inflation has persisted during the recovery period and food insecurity is expected to continue, financial markets, including stock indexes, are booming. Citing previous studies, the report adds that poorer individuals without access to capital and savings may potentially be excluded from rapid increases in asset prices.

READ ALSO: Covid triggers an unprecedented drop in life expectancy since World War II

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